Regulating the regulators: The pervasive effects of Pol II pausing on stimulus-responsive gene networks

ArticleinGenes & development 26(9):933-44 · May 2012with17 Reads
DOI: 10.1101/gad.187781.112 · Source: PubMed
The expression of many metazoan genes is regulated through controlled release of RNA polymerase II (Pol II) that has paused during early transcription elongation. Pausing is highly enriched at genes in stimulus-responsive pathways, where it has been proposed to poise downstream targets for rapid gene activation. However, whether this represents the major function of pausing in these pathways remains to be determined. To address this question, we analyzed pausing within several stimulus-responsive networks in Drosophila and discovered that paused Pol II is much more prevalent at genes encoding components and regulators of signal transduction cascades than at inducible downstream targets. Within immune-responsive pathways, we found that pausing maintains basal expression of critical network hubs, including the key NF-κB transcription factor that triggers gene activation. Accordingly, loss of pausing through knockdown of the pause-inducing factor NELF leads to broadly attenuated immune gene activation. Investigation of murine embryonic stem cells revealed that pausing is similarly widespread at genes encoding signaling components that regulate self-renewal, particularly within the MAPK/ERK pathway. We conclude that the role of pausing goes well beyond poising-inducible genes for activation and propose that the primary function of paused Pol II is to establish basal activity of signal-responsive networks.
    • "However the exact mechanism regulating such synchronization is yet to be elucidated . In particular, not all poised genes are induced in response to stimuli [42][43][44]thus such synchronization would have to be conditioned on additional factors. In addition, studies of Pol II poising during Drosophila development indicated that de novo recruitment of poised Pol II does not occur in a tissue-specific manner, necessitating additional tissue-specific regula- tion [23]. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent genome-wide analyses have uncovered a high accumulation of RNA polymerase II (Pol II) at the 5' end of genes. This elevated Pol II presence at promoters, referred to here as Poll II poising, is mainly (but not exclusively) attributed to temporal pausing of transcription during early elongation which, in turn, has been proposed to be a regulatory step for processes that need to be activated "on demand". Yet, the full genome-wide regulatory role of Pol II poising is yet to be delineated. To elucidate the role of Pol II poising in B cell activation, we compared Pol II profiles in resting and activated B cells. We found that while Pol II poised genes generally overlap functionally among different B cell states and correspond to the functional groups previously identified for other cell types, non-poised genes are B cell state specific. Focusing on the changes in transcription activity upon B cell activation, we found that the majority of such changes were from poised to non-poised state. The genes showing this type of transition were functionally enriched in translation, RNA processing and mRNA metabolic process. Interestingly, we also observed a transition from non-poised to poised state. Within this set of genes we identified several Immediate Early Genes (IEG), which were highly expressed in resting B cell and shifted from non-poised to poised state after B cell activation. Thus Pol II poising does not only mark genes for rapid expression in the future, but it is also associated with genes that are silenced after a burst of their expression. Finally, we performed comparative analysis of the presence of G4 motifs in the context of poised versus non-poised but active genes. Interestingly we observed a differential enrichment of these motifs upstream versus downstream of TSS depending on poising status. The enrichment of G4 sequence motifs upstream of TSS of non-poised active genes suggests a potential role of quadruplexes in expression regulation.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2016
    • "We propose that a biological role of Pol II pausing is to moderate the extent of a transcriptional response by limiting the turnover of molecules during activation (Figure 3). Taken genome-wide, the presence of paused Pol II enables the cell to maintain expression levels of key regulatory genes and thus maintain the transcription network (Gilchrist et al. 2012; Henriques et al. 2013). We propose further that normal cell differentiation is accompanied by concerted changes in Pol II pausing status across the genome. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The RNA polymerase II (Pol II) transcribes all mRNA genes in eukaryotes and is among the most highly regulated enzymes in the cell. The classic model of mRNA gene regulation involves recruitment of the RNA polymerase to gene promoters in response to environmental signals. Higher eukaryotes have an additional ability to generate multiple cell types. This extra level of regulation enables each cell to interpret the same genome by committing to one of the many possible transcription programs and executing it in a precise and robust manner. Whereas multiple mechanisms are implicated in cell type-specific transcriptional regulation, how one genome can give rise to distinct transcriptional programs and what mechanisms activate and maintain the appropriate program in each cell remains unclear. This review focuses on the process of promoter-proximal Pol II pausing during early transcription elongation as a key step in context-dependent interpretation of the metazoan genome. We highlight aspects of promoter-proximal Pol II pausing, including its interplay with epigenetic mechanisms, that may enable cell type-specific regulation, and emphasize some of the pertinent questions that remain unanswered and open for investigation.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2015
    • "A direct link between MAR and dosage compensation remains to be explored. Another striking feature, in the context of transcription and MAR emerged as the association of stalled Pol II promoters with MAR [41,53,54] . This indicates that transcriptionally engaged Pol II accumulates just downstream of the promoters and structural basis for this state is provided by the association with NuMat. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Eukaryotic genome acquires functionality upon proper packaging within the nucleus. This process is facilitated by the structural framework of Nuclear Matrix, a nucleo-proteinaceous meshwork. Matrix Attachment Regions (MARs) in the genome serve as anchoring sites to this framework. Here we report direct sequencing of the MAR preparation from Drosophila melanogaster embryos and identify >7350 MARs. This amounts to ~2.5% of the fly genome and often coincide with AT rich non-coding regions. We find significant association of MARs with the origins of replication, transcription start sites, paused RNA Polymerase II sites and exons, but not introns, of highly expressed genes. We also identified sequence motifs and repeats that constitute MARs. Our data reveal the contact points of genome to the nuclear architecture and provide a link between nuclear functions and genomic packaging.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2014
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