Nucleic Acids Res.: auth.: group Stasiak

Nucleic Acids Res. 2017 Nov 13. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkx1123. [Epub ahead of print]

Transcription-induced supercoiling as the driving force of chromatin loop extrusion during formation of TADs in interphase chromosomes.

Racko D1,2,3Benedetti F1,4Dorier J1,4Stasiak A1,2.


Using molecular dynamics simulations, we show here that growing plectonemes resulting from transcription-induced supercoiling have the ability to actively push cohesin rings along chromatin fibres. The pushing direction is such that within each topologically associating domain (TAD) cohesin rings forming handcuffs move from the source of supercoiling, constituted by RNA polymerase with associated DNA topoisomerase TOP1, towards borders of TADs, where supercoiling is released by topoisomerase TOPIIB. Cohesin handcuffs are pushed by continuous flux of supercoiling that is generated by transcription and is then progressively released by action of TOPIIB located at TADs borders. Our model explains what can be the driving force of chromatin loop extrusion and how it can be ensured that loops grow quickly and in a good direction. In addition, the supercoiling-driven loop extrusion mechanism is consistent with earlier explanations proposing why TADs flanked by convergent CTCF binding sites form more stable chromatin loops than TADs flanked by divergent CTCF binding sites. We discuss the role of supercoiling in stimulating enhancer promoter contacts and propose that transcription of eRNA sends the first wave of supercoiling that can activate mRNA transcription in a given TAD.

PMID: 29140466