Transcription factors (TFs) are DNA binding proteins that control the expression of genes. The regulation of transcription is a complex process that involves binding of TFs to specific sequences, recruitment of cofactors and chromatin remodelers, assembly of the pre-initiation complex and ultimately the recruitment of RNA polymerase II. Increasing evidence suggests that TFs are highly dynamic and interact only transiently with DNA. Single molecule microscopy techniques are powerful approaches for visualizing and tracking individual TF molecules as they diffuse in the nucleus and interact with DNA. In this work, we employ multifocus microscopy and highly inclined and laminated optical sheet microscopy to track TF dynamics in response to perturbations in labile zinc inside cells. We sought to define whether zinc-dependent TFs sense changes in the labile zinc pool by determining whether their dynamics and DNA binding can be modulated by zinc. While it is widely appreciated that TFs need zinc to bind DNA, whether zinc occupancy and hence TF function are sensitive to
changesin cellular zinc remain open questions. We utilized fluorescently tagged versions of the glucocorticoid receptor (GR), with two C4 zinc finger domains, and CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF), with eleven C2H2 zinc finger domains. We found that the biophysical dynamics of both TFs are susceptible to changes in zinc, but in subtly different ways. These results indicate that at least some transcription factors are sensitive to zinc dynamics, revealing a potential new layer of transcriptional regulation.