RSC and GRFs confer promoter directionality by restricting divergent noncoding transcription

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The directionality of gene promoters-the ratio of protein-coding over divergent noncoding transcription-is highly variable. How promoter directionality is controlled remains poorly understood. Here, we show that the chromatin remodelling complex RSC and general regulatory factors (GRFs) dictate promoter directionality by attenuating divergent transcription relative to protein-coding transcription. At gene promoters that are highly directional, depletion of RSC leads to a relative increase in divergent noncoding transcription and thus to a decrease in promoter directionality. We find that RSC has a modest effect on nucleosome positioning upstream in promoters at the sites of divergent transcription. These promoters are also enriched for the binding of GRFs such as Reb1 and Abf1. Ectopic targeting of divergent transcription initiation sites with GRFs or the dCas9 DNA-binding protein suppresses divergent transcription. Our data suggest that RSC and GRFs play a pervasive role in limiting divergent transcription relative to coding direction transcription. We propose that any DNA-binding factor, when stably associated with cryptic transcription start sites, forms a barrier which represses divergent transcription, thereby promoting promoter directionality.

Journal details

Volume 5
Issue number 12
Pages e202201394
Available online
Publication date