Cellular dynamics of the negative transcription elongation factor NELF

Exp Cell Res. 2009 Jun 10;315(10):1693-705. doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2009.02.013. Epub 2009 Feb 23.


Negative Elongation Factor (NELF) is a transcription factor discovered based on its biochemical activity to suppress transcription elongation, and has since been implicated in various diseases ranging from neurological disorders to cancer. Besides its role in promoter-proximal pausing of RNA polymerase II during early stages of transcription, recently we found that it also plays important roles in the 3'-end processing of histone mRNA. Furthermore, NELF has been found to form a distinct subnuclear structure, which we named NELF bodies. These recent developments point to a wide range of potential functions for NELF, and, as most studies on NELF thus far had been carried out in vitro, here, we prepared a complete set of fusion protein constructs of NELF subunits and carried out a general cell biological study of the intracellular dynamics of NELF. Our data show that NELF subunits exhibit highly specific subcellular localizations, such as in NELF bodies or in midbodies, and some shuttle actively between the nucleus and cytoplasm. We further show that loss of NELF from cells can lead to enlarged and/or multiple nuclei. This work serves as a foundation and starting point for further cell biological investigations of NELF in the future.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Active Transport, Cell Nucleus
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism*
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Interphase
  • Mitosis
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism*
  • Protein Subunits / metabolism
  • Subcellular Fractions / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors
  • Transcriptional Elongation Factors / metabolism*


  • Carrier Proteins
  • NELFA protein, human
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Protein Subunits
  • Transcription Factors
  • Transcriptional Elongation Factors
  • negative elongation factor