Live imaging of nascent RNA dynamics reveals distinct types of transcriptional pulse regulation

Tetsuya Muramoto, Danielle Cannon, Marek Gierlinski, Adam Corrigan, Geoffrey J. Barton, Jonathan R. Chubb

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    95 Citations (Scopus)


    Transcription of genes can be discontinuous, occurring in pulses or bursts. It is not clear how properties of transcriptional pulses vary between different genes. We compared the pulsing of five housekeeping and five developmentally induced genes by direct imaging of single gene transcriptional events in individual living Dictyostelium cells. Each gene displayed its own transcriptional signature, differing in probability of firing and pulse duration, frequency, and intensity. In contrast to the prevailing view from both prokaryotes and eukaryotes that transcription displays binary behavior, strongly expressed housekeeping genes altered the magnitude of their transcriptional pulses during development. These nonbinary "tunable" responses may be better suited than stochastic switch behavior for housekeeping functions. Analysis of RNA synthesis kinetics using fluorescence recovery after photobleaching implied modulation of housekeeping-gene pulse strength occurs at the level of transcription initiation rather than elongation. In addition, disparities between single cell and population measures of transcript production suggested differences in RNA stability between gene classes. Analysis of stability using RNAseq revealed no major global differences in stability between developmental and housekeeping transcripts, although strongly induced RNAs showed unusually rapid decay, indicating tight regulation of expression.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)7350-7355
    Number of pages6
    JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
    Issue number19
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


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