The time spent by a single RNA polymerase (RNAP) at specific locations along the DNA, termed “residence time,” reports on the initiation, elongation, and termination stages of transcription. At the single-molecule level, this information can be obtained from dual ultrastable optical trapping experiments, revealing a transcriptional elongation of RNAP interspersed with residence times of variable duration. Successfully discriminating between long and short residence times was used by previous approaches to learn about RNAP's transcription elongation dynamics. Here, we propose an approach based on the Bayesian sticky hidden Markov model that treats all residence times for an Escherichia coli RNAP on an equal footing without a priori discriminating between long and short residence times. Furthermore, our method has two additional advantages: we provide full distributions around key point statistics and directly treat the sequence dependence of RNAP's elongation rate. By applying our approach to experimental data, we find assigned relative probabilities on long versus short residence times, force-dependent average residence time transcription elongation dynamics, ∼10% drop in the average backtracking durations in the presence of GreB, and ∼20% drop in the average residence time as a function of applied force in the presence of RNaseA.
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