Zooming in on single active genes in living mammalian cells

Sharon Yunger, Alon Kalo, Pinhas Kafri, Jonathan Sheinberger, Erez Lavi, Noa Neufeld, Yaron Shav-Tal

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The kinetic aspects of RNA polymerase II as it transcribes mRNA have been revealed over the past decade by use of live-cell imaging and kinetic analyses. It is now possible to visualize polymerase molecules in action, and most importantly to detect and follow the mRNA product as it is generated in real time on active genes. Questions such as the speed at which mRNAs are transcribed or the number of polymerases running along a particular gene can be addressed at high temporal resolution. These kinetic studies highlight the tight regulation that genes encounter when moving between active and inactive states, and ultimately will shed light on the kinetic aspects of transcription of genes under perturbed states. The scientific pathway along which these findings were unearthed begins with the imaging of the action of hundreds of genes working in concert in fixed cells. The state of the art has reached the capability of analyzing the transcription of single alleles in living mammalian cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-79
Number of pages9
JournalHistochemistry and Cell Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments Yaron Shav-Tal is supported by the European Research Council (ERC).


  • Live-cell imaging
  • Nucleus
  • Promoter
  • RNA polymerase II
  • Single allele
  • Transcription


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