TBP dynamics in living human cells: Constitutive association of TBP with mitotic chromosomes

Danyang Chen, Craig S. Hinkley, R. William Henry, Sui Huang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


The recruitment of TATA binding protein (TBP) to gene promoters is a critical rate-limiting step in transcriptional regulation for all three eukaryotic RNA polymerases. However, little is known regarding the dynamics of TBP in live mammalian cells. In this report, we examined the distribution and dynamic behavior of green fluorescence protein (GFP)-tagged TBP in live HeLa cells using fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) analyses. We observed that GFP-TBP associates with condensed chromosomes throughout mitosis without any FRAP. These results suggest that TBP stably associates with the condensed chromosomes during mitosis. In addition, endogenous TBP and TBP-associated factors (TAFs), specific for RNA polymerase II and III transcription, cofractionated with mitotic chromatin, suggesting that TBP is retained as a TBP-TAF complex on transcriptionally silent chromatin throughout mitosis. In interphase cells, GFP-TBP distributes throughout the nucleoplasm and shows a FRAP that is 100-fold slower than the general transcription factor GFP-TFIIB. This difference supports the idea that TBP and, most likely, TBP-TAF complexes, remain promoter-bound for multiple rounds of transcription. Altogether, our observations demonstrate that there are cell cycle specific characteristics in the dynamic behavior of TBP. We propose a novel model in which the association of TBP-TAF complexes with chromatin during mitosis marks genes for rapid transcriptional activation as cells emerge from mitosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)276-284
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular biology of the cell
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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