Nanog organizes transcription bodies

Curr Biol. 2023 Jan 9;33(1):164-173.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2022.11.015. Epub 2022 Dec 6.


The localization of transcriptional activity in specialized transcription bodies is a hallmark of gene expression in eukaryotic cells.1-3 How proteins of the transcriptional machinery come together to form such bodies, however, is unclear. Here, we take advantage of two large, isolated, and long-lived transcription bodies that reproducibly form during early zebrafish embryogenesis to characterize the dynamics of transcription body formation. Once formed, these transcription bodies are enriched for initiating and elongating RNA polymerase II, as well as the transcription factors Nanog and Sox19b. Analyzing the events leading up to transcription, we find that Nanog and Sox19b cluster prior to transcription. The clustering of transcription factors is sequential; Nanog clusters first, and this is required for the clustering of Sox19b and the initiation of transcription. Mutant analysis revealed that both the DNA-binding domain as well as one of the two intrinsically disordered regions of Nanog are required to organize the two bodies of transcriptional activity. Taken together, our data suggest that the clustering of transcription factors dictates the formation of transcription bodies.

Keywords: Nanog; RNA polymerase II; nuclear organization; transcription; transcription bodies; transcription factors; zebrafish.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Embryonic Development / genetics
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism
  • Nanog Homeobox Protein / genetics
  • Nanog Homeobox Protein / metabolism
  • SOX Transcription Factors / genetics
  • SOX Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors* / genetics
  • Transcription Factors* / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Zebrafish Proteins / genetics
  • Zebrafish Proteins / metabolism
  • Zebrafish* / genetics
  • Zebrafish* / metabolism


  • Nanog Homeobox Protein
  • Transcription Factors
  • Zebrafish Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • sox19b protein, zebrafish
  • SOX Transcription Factors
  • Nanog protein, zebrafish