Single nucleosome imaging reveals loose genome chromatin networks via active RNA polymerase II

Although chromatin organization and dynamics play a critical role in gene transcription, how they interplay remains unclear. To approach this issue, we investigated genome-wide chromatin behavior under various transcriptional conditions in living human cells using single-nucleosome imaging. While transcription by RNA polymerase II (RNAPII) is generally thought to need more open and dynamic chromatin, surprisingly, we found that active RNAPII globally constrains chromatin movements. RNAPII inhibition or its rapid depletion released the chromatin constraints and increased chromatin dynamics. Perturbation experiments of P-TEFb clusters, which are associated with active RNAPII, had similar results. Furthermore, chromatin mobility also increased in resting G0 cells and UV-irradiated cells, which are transcriptionally less active. Our results demonstrated that chromatin is globally stabilized by loose connections through active RNAPII, which is compatible with models of classical transcription factories or liquid droplet formation of transcription-related factors. Together with our computational modeling, we propose the existence of loose chromatin domain networks for various intra-/interchromosomal contacts via active RNAPII clusters/droplets.

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