Gilchrist DA, Fargo DC, Adelman K
Transcription is a sophisticated multi-step process in which RNA polymerase II (Pol II) transcribes a DNA template into RNA in concert with a broad array of transcription initiation, elongation, capping, termination, and histone modifying factors. Recent global analyses of Pol II distribution have indicated that many genes are regulated during the elongation phase, shedding light on a previously underappreciated mechanism for controlling gene expression. Understanding how various factors regulate transcription elongation in living cells has been greatly aided by chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) studies, which can provide spatial and temporal resolution of protein-DNA binding events. The coupling of ChIP with DNA microarray and high-throughput sequencing technologies (ChIP-chip and ChIP-seq) has significantly increased the scope of ChIP studies and genome-wide maps of Pol II or elongation factor binding sites can now be readily produced. However, while ChIP-chip/ChIP-seq data allow for high-resolution localization of protein-DNA binding sites, they are not sufficient to dissect protein function. Here we describe techniques for coupling ChIP-chip/ChIP-seq with genetic, chemical, and experimental manipulation to obtain mechanistic insight from genome-wide protein-DNA binding studies. We have employed these techniques to discern immature promoter-proximal Pol II from productively elongating Pol II, and infer a critical role for the transition between initiation and full elongation competence in regulating development and gene induction in response to environmental signals.