Cracking the RNA polymerase II CTD code

Trends Genet. 2008 Jun;24(6):280-8. doi: 10.1016/j.tig.2008.03.008. Epub 2008 May 3.


The carboxyl-terminal domain (CTD) of the largest subunit of RNA polymerase II comprises multiple tandem conserved heptapeptide repeats, unique to this eukaryotic RNA polymerase. This unusual structure provides a docking platform for factors involved in various co-transcriptional events. Recruitment of the appropriate factors at different stages of the transcription cycle is achieved through changing patterns of post-translational modification of the CTD repeats, which create a readable 'code'. A new phosphorylation mark both expands the CTD code and provides the first example of a CTD signal read in a gene type-specific manner. How and when is the code written and read? How does it contribute to transcription and coordinate RNA processing?

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Motifs / genetics
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Endoribonucleases / metabolism
  • Histone Code / physiology
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Peptide Elongation Factors / metabolism
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational / physiology
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary / genetics
  • RNA Polymerase II / chemistry
  • RNA Polymerase II / genetics*
  • RNA Polymerase II / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Peptide Elongation Factors
  • RNA Polymerase II
  • Endoribonucleases
  • splicing endonuclease