Single-molecule dynamics and genome-wide transcriptomics reveal that NF-kB (p65)-DNA binding times can be decoupled from transcriptional activation

Transcription factors (TFs) regulate gene expression in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes by recognizing and binding to specific DNA promoter sequences. In higher eukaryotes, it remains unclear how the duration of TF binding to DNA relates to downstream transcriptional output. Here, we address this question for the transcriptional activator NF-B (p65), by live-cell single molecule imaging of TF-DNA binding kinetics and genome-wide quantification of p65-mediated transcription. We used mutants of p65, perturbing either the DNA binding domain (DBD) or the protein-protein transactivation domain (TAD). We found that p65-DNA binding time was predominantly determined by its DBD and directly correlated with its transcriptional output as long as the TAD is intact. Surprisingly, mutation or deletion of the TAD did not modify p65-DNA binding stability, suggesting that the p65 TAD generally contributes neither to the assembly of an enhanceosome, nor to the active removal of p65 from putative specific binding sites. However, TAD removal did reduce p65-mediated transcriptional activation, indicating that protein-protein interactions act to translate the long-lived p65-DNA binding into productive transcription. Author summary To control the rate of transcription of genes, both eukaryotes and prokaryotes express specialized proteins, transcription factors (TF), that bind promoter sequences to mark them for the transcriptional machinery including DNA polymerase II. TFs are often multi-subunit proteins containing a DNA-binding domain (DBD) as well as a protein-protein interaction interface. It was suggested that the duration of a TF-DNA binding event 1) depends on these two subunits and 2) dictates the outcome, i.e. the amount of mRNA produced from an activated gene. We set out to investigate these hypotheses using the transcriptional activator NF-B (p65) as well as mutants affecting one of its functional subunits. Using a combination of live-cell microscopy and RNA sequencing, we show that p65 DNA-binding time indeed correlates with the transcriptional output, but that this relation depends on, and hence can be uncoupled by altering, the protein-protein interaction capacity. Our results suggest that, while p65 DNA binding times are dominated by the DBD, transcriptional output relies upon functional protein-protein interaction subunit.

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Plos Genetics, 15, 1, e1007891
Jan 01 2019

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 Record created 2019-02-13, last modified 2020-04-20

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