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Single molecule occupancy patterns of transcription factors reveal determinants of cooperative binding in vivo

By Can Sönmezer, Rozemarijn Kleinendorst, Dilek Imanci, Laura Villacorta, Dirk Schubeler, Vladimit Benes, Arnaud R Krebs

Posted 29 Jun 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.06.29.167155

Gene activation requires the cooperative activity of multiple transcription factors at cis-regulatory elements. Yet, most transcription factors have short residence time, questioning the requirement of their physical co-occupancy on DNA to achieve cooperativity. Here, we advance Single Molecule Footprinting to detect individual molecular interactions of transcription factors and nucleosomes with DNA at mouse cis-regulatory elements. We apply this strategy to quantify the simultaneous binding of multiple transcription factors on single DNA molecules. Analysis of the binary occupancy patterns at thousands of motif combinations reveals that for most types of transcription factors high DNA co-occupancy can occur in absence of direct physical interaction, at sites of competition with nucleosomes. Perturbation of pairwise interactions demonstrates the function of molecular co-occupancy for binding cooperativity. These findings elucidate the binding cooperativity mechanism used by transcription factors in absence of strict organisation of their binding motifs, a characteristic feature of most of enhancers. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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