Direct observation of DNA rotation during transcription by escherichia coli RNA polymerase

Yoshie Harada*, Osamu Ohara, Akira Takatsuki, Hiroyasu Itoh, Nobuo Shimamoto, Kazuhiko Kinosita

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

194 Citations (Scopus)


Helical filaments driven by linear molecular motors are anticipated to rotate around their axis, but rotation consistent with the helical pitch has not been observed. 14S dynein1 and non-claret disjunctional protein (ncd)2 rotated a microtubule more efficiently than expected for its helical pitch, and myosin rotated an actin filament only poorly3. For DNA-based motors such as RNA polymerase, transcription-induced supercoiling of DNA4 supports the general picture of tracking along the DNA helix5. Here we report direct and real-time optical microscopy measurements of rotation rate that are consistent with high-fidelity tracking. Single RNA polymerase molecules attached to a glass surface rotated DNA for >100 revolutions around the right-handed screw axis of the double helix with a rotary torque of >5 pNnm. This real-time observation of rotation opens the possibility of resolving individual transcription steps.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-115
Number of pages3
Issue number6816
Publication statusPublished - 2001 Jan 4
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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