Volume 84, Number 6, December 2008
Article Number 68004
Number of page(s) 6
Section Interdisciplinary Physics and Related Areas of Science and Technology
Published online 23 December 2008
EPL, 84 (2008) 68004
DOI: 10.1209/0295-5075/84/68004

Transcriptional bursts: A unified model of machines and mechanisms

Tripti Tripathi and Debashish Chowdhury

Department of Physics, Indian Institute of Technology - Kanpur 208016, India

received 1 August 2008; accepted in final form 3 November 2008; published December 2008
published online 23 December 2008

Transcription is the process whereby RNA molecules are polymerized by molecular machines, called RNA polymerase (RNAP), using the corresponding DNA as the template. Recent in vivo experiments with single cells have established that transcription takes place in “bursts” or “pulses”. In this letter we present a model that captures not only the mechano-chemistry of individual RNAPs and their steric interactions but also the switching of the gene between the ON and OFF states. This model accounts for the statistical properties of the transcriptional bursts. It also shows how the quantitative features of the distributions of these bursts can be tuned by controlling the appropriate steps of operation of the RNAP machines.

PACS - Dynamics and fluctuations.
87.18.Tt - Noise in biological systems.

© EPLA 2008