The RNA polymerase II elongation complex

Annu Rev Biochem. 2003:72:693-715. doi: 10.1146/annurev.biochem.72.121801.161551. Epub 2003 Mar 27.


Synthesis of eukaryotic mRNA by RNA polymerase II is an elaborate biochemical process that requires the concerted action of a large set of transcription factors. RNA polymerase II transcription proceeds through multiple stages designated preinitiation, initiation, and elongation. Historically, studies of the elongation stage of eukaryotic mRNA synthesis have lagged behind studies of the preinitiation and initiation stages; however, in recent years, efforts to elucidate the mechanisms governing elongation have led to the discovery of a diverse collection of transcription factors that directly regulate the activity of elongating RNA polymerase II. Moreover, these studies have revealed unanticipated roles for the RNA polymerase II elongation complex in such processes as DNA repair and recombination and the proper processing and nucleocytoplasmic transport of mRNA. Below we describe these recent advances, which highlight the important role of the RNA polymerase II elongation complex in regulation of eukaryotic gene expression.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • Eukaryotic Cells / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation / genetics
  • Models, Molecular
  • RNA Polymerase II / chemistry*
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • Transcription Factors / chemistry
  • Transcription Factors / physiology


  • Chromatin
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Transcription Factors
  • RNA Polymerase II