Mechanical Properties of Transcription
AbstractThe mechanical properties of transcription have recently been shown to play a central role in gene expression. However, a full physical characterization of this central biological process is lacking. In this Letter, we introduce a simple description of the basic physical elements of transcription where RNA elongation, RNA polymerase rotation, and DNA supercoiling are coupled. The resulting framework describes the relative amount of RNA polymerase rotation and DNA supercoiling that occurs during RNA elongation. Asymptotic behavior is derived and can be used to experimentally extract unknown mechanical parameters of transcription. Mechanical limits to transcription are incorporated through the addition of a DNA supercoiling-dependent RNA polymerase velocity. This addition can lead to transcriptional stalling and resulting implications for gene expression, chromatin structure and genome organization are discussed.