Photobleaching reveals complex effects of inhibitors on transcribing RNA polymerase II in living cells.
Fromaget M., Cook PR.
RNA polymerase II transcribes most eukaryotic genes. Photobleaching studies have revealed that living Chinese hamster ovary cells expressing the catalytic subunit of the polymerase tagged with the green fluorescent protein contain a large rapidly exchanging pool of enzyme, plus a smaller engaged fraction; genetic complementation shows this tagged polymerase to be fully functional. We investigated how transcriptional inhibitors--some of which are used therapeutically--affect the engaged fraction in living cells using fluorescence loss in photobleaching; all were used at concentrations that have reversible effects. Various kinase inhibitors (roscovitine, DRB, KM05283, alsterpaullone, isoquinolinesulfonamide derivatives H-7, H-8, H-89, H-9), proteasomal inhibitors (lactacystin, MG132), and an anti-tumour agent (cisplatin) all reduced the engaged fraction; an intercalator (actinomycin D), two histone deacetylase inhibitors (trichostatin A, sodium butyrate), and irradiation with ultra-violet light all increased it. The polymerase proves to be both a sensitive sensor and effector of the response to these inhibitors.