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Biomolecular Concepts

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Optical tweezers studies of transcription by eukaryotic RNA polymerases

Ana Lisica
  • BIOTEC, Technical University Dresden, Tatzberg 47/49, D-01307 Dresden, Germany; and Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Pfotenhauerstraße 108, D-01307 Dresden, Germany
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/ Stephan W. Grill
  • Corresponding author
  • BIOTEC, Technical University Dresden, Tatzberg 47/49, D-01307 Dresden, Germany; and Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Pfotenhauerstraße 108, D-01307 Dresden, Germany
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Published Online: 2017-02-21 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/bmc-2016-0028


Transcription is the first step in the expression of genetic information and it is carried out by large macromolecular enzymes called RNA polymerases. Transcription has been studied for many years and with a myriad of experimental techniques, ranging from bulk studies to high-resolution transcript sequencing. In this review, we emphasise the advantages of using single-molecule techniques, particularly optical tweezers, to study transcription dynamics. We give an overview of the latest results in the single-molecule transcription field, focusing on transcription by eukaryotic RNA polymerases. Finally, we evaluate recent quantitative models that describe the biophysics of RNA polymerase translocation and backtracking dynamics.

Keywords: optical tweezers; RNA polymerases; single-molecule techniques; transcription


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About the article

aPresent address: London Centre for Nanotechnology, University College London, London WC1H 0AH, UK

Received: 2016-12-01

Accepted: 2017-01-10

Published Online: 2017-02-21

Published in Print: 2017-03-01

Citation Information: Biomolecular Concepts, ISSN (Online) 1868-503X, ISSN (Print) 1868-5021, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/bmc-2016-0028.

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