Regulating the regulators: lysine modifications make their mark

Cell. 2003 Jan 10;112(1):11-7. doi: 10.1016/s0092-8674(02)01278-3.


Decades of research have uncovered much of the molecular machinery responsible for establishing and maintaining proper gene transcription patterns in eukaryotes. Although the composition of this machinery is largely known, mechanisms regulating its activity by covalent modification are just coming into focus. Here, we review several cases of ubiquitination, sumoylation, and acetylation that link specific covalent modification of the transcriptional apparatus to their regulatory function. We propose that potential cascades of modifications serve as molecular rheostats that fine-tune the control of transcription in diverse organisms.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation
  • Basic-Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Humans
  • Lysine / chemistry
  • Lysine / metabolism*
  • Models, Genetic
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • RNA Polymerase II / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins*
  • Small Ubiquitin-Related Modifier Proteins / chemistry
  • Small Ubiquitin-Related Modifier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Trans-Activators / chemistry
  • Trans-Activators / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / chemistry
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Transcriptional Activation
  • Ubiquitins / physiology*


  • Basic-Leucine Zipper Transcription Factors
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • MET4 protein, S cerevisiae
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • Small Ubiquitin-Related Modifier Proteins
  • Trans-Activators
  • Transcription Factors
  • Ubiquitins
  • RNA Polymerase II
  • Lysine