Spatial organization of transcription in bacterial cells

Xiaoli Weng, Jie Xiao

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Prokaryotic transcription has been extensively studied over the past half a century. However, there often exists a gap between the structural, mechanistic description of transcription obtained from in vitro biochemical studies, and the cellular, phenomenological observations from in vivo genetic studies. It is now accepted that a living bacterial cell is a complex entity; the heterogeneous cellular environment is drastically different from the homogenous, well-mixed situation in vitro. Where molecules are inside a cell may be important for their function; hence, the spatial organization of different molecular components may provide a new means of transcription regulation in vivo, possibly bridging this gap. In this review, we survey current evidence for the spatial organization of four major components of transcription [genes, transcription factors, RNA polymerase (RNAP) and RNAs] and critically analyze their biological significance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)287-297
Number of pages11
JournalTrends in Genetics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2014


  • Chromosome conformation capture
  • Prokaryotic transcription
  • RNA polymerase
  • Single molecule
  • Spatial organization
  • Transcription factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


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