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Transcriptional oscillation functions as a development timer

Apr 8, 2014

Long time collaborators Peter Devreotes of Johns Hopkins University and Masahiro Ueda of QBiC have just released a paper in Science that describes the periodic relationship between the transcription factor GtaC and the csaA gene in D. discoideum [1]. The collaboration was motivated by work done by coauthor and QBiC member, Tetsuya Muramoto, who had previously detected oscillation dynamics in RNA transcription using the MS2 system. In the present paper, he successfully imaged simultaneously the shuttling of GtaC to and from the nucleus in living cells and the transcription of many genes. Of note, the transcription of the csaA gene had a period of 5.6 min, almost identical to the 5.5 min period of the GtaC shuttling, but with a lag of just over 3 min. This phase was attributed to the time lag between transcription factor binding and detection of the transcripts. The oscillations of GtaC itself were seen to depend on cAMP waves, demonstrating how these waves regulate gene transcription. Tetsuya has now examined a total of 17 genes, but none have shown as clear an oscillation pattern with GtaC as the csaA gene. Nevertheless, he doubts this will be the only gene. “We expect GtaC to have an effect on the transcription oscillations of many genes, but still have not found them”.

  1. Cai H, Katoh-Kurasawa M, Muramoto T, Santhanam B, Long Y, Li L, Ueda M, Iglesias PA, Shaulsky G, Devreotes PN. (2014) Nucleocytoplasmic shuttling of a GATA transcription factor functions as a development timer: Science Mar 21;343(6177):1249531. doi: 10.1126/science.1249531pubmed link