Dissecting the in vivo dynamics of transcription locking due to positive supercoiling buildup

Cristina S.D. Palma, Vinodh Kandavalli, Mohamed N.M. Bahrudeen, Marco Minoia, Vatsala Chauhan, Suchintak Dash, Andre S. Ribeiro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Positive supercoiling buildup (PSB) is a pervasive phenomenon in the transcriptional programs of Escherichia coli. After finding a range of Gyrase concentrations where the inverse of the transcription rate of a chromosome-integrated gene changes linearly with the inverse of Gyrase concentration, we apply a LineWeaver-Burk plot to dissect the expected in vivo transcription rate in absence of PSB. We validate the estimation by time-lapse microscopy of single-RNA production kinetics of the same gene when single-copy plasmid-borne, shown to be impervious to Gyrase inhibition. Next, we estimate the fraction of time in locked states and number of transcription events prior to locking, which we validate by measurements under Gyrase inhibition. Replacing the gene of interest by one with slower transcription rate decreases the fraction of time in locked states due to PSB. Finally, we combine data from both constructs to infer a range of possible transcription initiation locking kinetics in a chromosomal location, obtainable by tuning the transcription rate. We validate with measurements of transcription activity at different induction levels. This strategy for dissecting transcription initiation locking kinetics due to PSB can contribute to resolve the transcriptional programs of E. coli and in the engineering of synthetic genetic circuits.

Original languageEnglish
Article number194515
Number of pages13
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Gene Regulatory Mechanisms
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • LineWeaver-Burk plots
  • Positive supercoiling buildup
  • Single-RNA production dynamics
  • Transcription locking kinetics

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