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Sci. STKE, 29 May 2007
Vol. 2007, Issue 388, p. tw190
[DOI: 10.1126/stke.3882007tw190]


Biochemistry Real-Life Transcription Factor Dynamics

Valda Vinson

Science, AAAS, Washington, DC 20005, USA

Transcription factors bind to specific sites on chromosomal DNA to regulate gene expression. It is generally thought that transcription factors find their target DNA through a combination of diffusion through the cytoplasm and diffusion along DNA segments. Elf et al. use single-molecule techniques to study the specific and nonspecific binding of a model transcription factor, the lac repressor, in living Escherichia coli. Lac repressor searching for an operator spends 90% of its time diffusing along DNA. If the repressor does not find an operator within 5 milliseconds, it falls off the DNA and diffuses through the cytoplasm to bind to another DNA segment. Such single-molecule approaches will move us toward a quantitative understanding of biochemical processes as they occur in living cells.

J. Elf, G.-W. Li, X. S. Xie, Probing transcription factor dynamics at the single-molecule level in a living cell. Science 316, 1191-1194 (2007). [Abstract] [Full Text]

Citation: V. Vinson, Real-Life Transcription Factor Dynamics. Sci. STKE 2007, tw190 (2007).

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