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Transient DNA Binding Induces RNA Polymerase II Compartmentalization During Herpesviral Infection Distinct From Phase Separation

By David T McSwiggen, Anders S. Hansen, Hervé Marie-Nelly, Sheila Teves, Alec B Heckert, Claire Dugast-Darzacq, Yvonne Hao, Kayla K Umemoto, Robert Tjian, Xavier Darzacq

Posted 23 Jul 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/375071 (published DOI: 10.7554/eLife.47098)

During lytic infection, Herpes Simplex Virus 1 generates replication compartments (RCs) in host nuclei that efficiently recruit protein factors, including host RNA Polymerase II (Pol II). Pol II and other cellular factors form hubs in uninfected cells that are proposed to phase separate via multivalent protein-protein interactions mediated by their intrinsically disordered regions. Using a battery of live cell microscopic techniques, we show that although RCs superficially exhibit many characteristics of phase separation, the recruitment of Pol II instead derives from nonspecific interactions with the viral DNA. We find that the viral genome remains nucleosome-free, profoundly affecting the way Pol II explores RCs by causing it to repetitively visit nearby binding sites, thereby creating local Pol II accumulations. This mechanism, distinct from phase separation, allows viral DNA to outcompete host DNA for cellular proteins. Our work provides new insights into the strategies used to create local molecular hubs in cells.

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