Properties of gene expression and chromatin structure with mechanically regulated elongation

Nucleic Acids Res. 2018 Jul 6;46(12):5924-5934. doi: 10.1093/nar/gky382.


In recent years, physical elements of transcription have emerged as central in our understanding of gene expression. Recent work has been done introducing a simple description of the basic physical elements of transcription where RNA elongation, RNA polymerase (RNAP) rotation and DNA supercoiling are coupled (1). Here we generalize this framework to accommodate the behavior of many RNAPs operating on multiple genes on a shared piece of DNA. The resulting framework is combined with well-established stochastic processes of transcription resulting in a model which characterizes the impact of the mechanical properties of transcription on gene expression and DNA structure. Transcriptional bursting readily emerges as a common phenomenon with origins in the geometric nature of the genetic system and results in the bounding of gene expression statistics. Properties of a multiple gene system are examined with special attention paid to the role that genome composition (gene orientation, size and intergenic distance) plays in the ability of genes to transcribe. The role of transcription in shaping DNA structure is examined and the possibility of transcription driven domain formation is discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Chromatin / chemistry
  • DNA, Superhelical / chemistry*
  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases / metabolism
  • Genes
  • Transcription Elongation, Genetic*
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Chromatin
  • DNA, Superhelical
  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases