Mfd Dynamically Regulates Transcription via a Release and Catch-Up Mechanism
The bacterial Mfd ATPase is increasingly recognized as a general transcription factor that participates in the resolution of transcription conflicts with other processes/roadblocks. This function stems from Mfd's ability to preferentially act on stalled RNA polymerases (RNAPs). However, the mechanism underlying this preference and the subsequent coordination between Mfd and RNAP have remained elusive. Here, using a novel real-time translocase assay, we unexpectedly discovered that Mfd translocates autonomously on DNA. The speed and processivity of Mfd dictate a â€œrelease and catch-upâ€ mechanism to efficiently patrol DNA for frequently stalled RNAPs. Furthermore, we showed that Mfd prevents RNAP backtracking or rescues a severely backtracked RNAP, allowing RNAP to overcome stronger obstacles. However, if an obstacle's resistance is excessive, Mfd dissociates the RNAP, clearing the DNA for other processes. These findings demonstrate a remarkably delicate coordination between Mfd and RNAP, allowing efficient targeting and recycling of Mfd and expedient conflict resolution. A â€œrelease and catch-upâ€ mechanism allows the bacterial protein Mfd to restart or remove stalled RNA polymerases. Â© 2017 Elsevier Inc.