While the spotlight has been for a long time on coding transcription, it turns out that noncoding transcription is largely predominant in a eukaryotic cell. This pervasiveness of noncoding transcription might have functional consequences: many noncoding transcripts overlap with promoter regions of coding genes. This might lead to the repression of the corresponding coding gene in a mechanism named transcription interference. It was known that this mechanism involves chromatin regulation, however the precise sequence of events triggering transcription interference was not yet defined.
The laboratory of Françoise Stutz proposes a fine mechanism of transcription interference by antisense noncoding transcription. Jatinder Kaur Gill, Julien Soudet and colleagues show that the induction of antisense noncoding transcription through the promoter region of the associated coding gene results in nucleosome repositioning. This leads to a decrease of transcription initiation of the coding gene. Based on highly resolutive sequencing technics, this study also shows that some histone modifications induce a differential positioning of nucleosomes. At last, the authors conclude that 1/5 of the coding genes are regulated through a process compatible with their model.
Considering the conservation of the involved factors, it appears likely that the regulation of many human coding genes may depend on the mechanism proposed in this publication.
This study was published in Cell Reports on the 5th May 2020.