MAPK-regulated transcription: a continuously variable gene switch?

Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2002 Jan;3(1):30-40. doi: 10.1038/nrm715.


Switching mechanisms that control genes could be viewed either as stable binary switches, in which genes exist in 'on' or 'off' states; or as quantitative rheostat-like switches, in which the rate of transcription is continuously variable and coupled directly to the strength of intracellular signalling events. Here, we discuss the biological need for quantitative gene regulation and, using mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)-controlled transcription as a model, assess the evidence for its existence and postulate mechanisms by which it might occur.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • Gene Silencing
  • Immediate-Early Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Immediate-Early Proteins / genetics
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / physiology*
  • Models, Genetic
  • Regulatory Sequences, Nucleic Acid
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic*
  • Transcriptional Activation


  • Chromatin
  • Immediate-Early Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases