Published on Sun Aug 15 2021

Dynamics of transcription elongation are finely tuned by dozens of regulatory factors

Couvillion, M., Harlen, K. M., Lachance, K. C., Trotta, K., Smtih, E., Brion, C., Smalec, B. M., Churchman, L. S.

RNA polymerase II (Pol II) activity in a wide variety of regulatory environments. Different sets of factors tightly regulate Pol II progression across gene bodies. Genes sensitive to disruptions in transcription elongation tend to couple Pol II pausing and antisense transcription to transcription output.

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Abstract

Understanding the complex network and dynamics that regulate transcription elongation requires the quantitative analysis of RNA polymerase II (Pol II) activity in a wide variety of regulatory environments. We performed native elongating transcript sequencing (NET-seq) in 41 strains of S. cerevisiae lacking known elongation regulators, including RNA processing factors, transcription elongation factors, chromatin modifiers, and remodelers. We found that the opposing effects of these factors balance transcription elongation dynamics. Different sets of factors tightly regulate Pol II progression across gene bodies so that Pol II density peaks at key points of RNA processing. These regulators control where Pol II pauses with each obscuring large numbers of potential pause sites that are primarily determined by DNA sequence and shape. Genes that are sensitive to disruptions in transcription elongation tend to couple changes in Pol II pausing and antisense transcription to transcription output. Our findings collectively show that the regulation of transcription elongation by a diverse array of factors affects gene expression levels and co-transcriptional processing by precisely balancing Pol II activity.