DNA Supercoiling Drives a Transition between Collective Modes of Gene Synthesis

Purba Chatterjee, Nigel Goldenfeld, Sangjin Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Transcription of genes can be affected by both biochemical and mechanical factors. Recent experiments suggested that the mechanical stress associated with transcription-induced DNA supercoiling is responsible for the transition from cooperative to antagonistic group dynamics of RNA polymerases (RNAPs) upon promoter repression. To underpin the mechanism behind this drastic transition, we developed a continuum deterministic model for transcription under torsion. In our model, the speed of an RNAP is affected by the local DNA supercoiling, as well as two global factors: (i) the number of RNAPs on the gene affecting the torsional stress experienced by individual RNAPs and (ii) transcription factors blocking the diffusion of DNA supercoils. Our minimal model can successfully reproduce the experimental findings and helps elucidate the interplay of mechanical and biological factors in the collective dynamics of molecular machines involved in gene expression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number218101
JournalPhysical review letters
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 19 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'DNA Supercoiling Drives a Transition between Collective Modes of Gene Synthesis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this