Gene expression amplification by nuclear speckle association

Jiah Kim, Neha Chivukula Venkata, Gabriela Andrea Hernandez Gonzalez, Nimish Khanna, Andrew S. Belmont

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many active genes reproducibly position near nuclear speckles, but the functional significance of this positioning is unknown. Here we show that HSPA1B BAC transgenes and endogenous Hsp70 genes turn on 2-4 min after heat shock (HS), irrespective of their distance to speckles. However, both total HSPA1B mRNA counts and nascent transcript levels measured adjacent to the transgene are approximately twofold higher for speckle-associated alleles 15 min after HS. Nascent transcript level foldincreases for speckle-associated alleles are 12-56-fold and 3-7-fold higher 1-2 h after HS for HSPA1B transgenes and endogenous genes, respectively. Severalfold higher nascent transcript levels for several Hsp70 flanking genes also correlate with speckle association at 37°C. Live-cell imaging reveals that HSPA1B nascent transcript levels increase/decrease with speckle association/disassociation. Initial investigation reveals that increased nascent transcript levels accompanying speckle association correlate with reduced exosome RNA degradation and larger Ser2p CTD-modified RNA polymerase II foci. Our results demonstrate stochastic gene expression dependent on positioning relative to a liquid-droplet nuclear compartment through "gene expression amplification.".

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Cell Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 6 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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