Regulation of RNA polymerase II activity by CTD phosphorylation and cell cycle control

J Cell Physiol. 2002 Feb;190(2):160-9. doi: 10.1002/jcp.10058.


The carboxyl-terminal domain (CTD) of the largest subunit of mammalian RNA polymerase II (RNAP II) consists of 52 repeats of a consensus heptapeptide and is subject to phosphorylation and dephosphorylation events during each round of transcription. RNAP II activity is regulated during the cell cycle and cell cycle-dependend changes in RNAP II activity correlate well with CTD phosphorylation. In addition, global changes in the CTD phosphorylation status are observed in response to mitogenic or cytostatic signals such as growth factors, mitogens and DNA-damaging agents. Several CTD kinases are members of the cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) superfamily and associate with transcription initiation complexes. Other CTD kinases implicated in cell cycle regulation include the mitogen-activated protein kinases ERK-1/2 and the c-Abl tyrosine kinase. These observations suggest that reversible RNAP II CTD phosphorylation may play a key role in linking cell cycle regulatory events to coordinated changes in transcription.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Cycle / physiology*
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinases / physiology
  • Humans
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Kinases / physiology
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary / physiology
  • RNA Polymerase II / chemistry
  • RNA Polymerase II / metabolism*
  • RNA Polymerase II / physiology
  • Transcription, Genetic / physiology


  • Protein Kinases
  • carboxy-terminal domain kinase
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinases
  • RNA Polymerase II