Regulatory mechanisms and networks couple the different phases of gene expression

Trends Genet. 2011 Aug;27(8):316-22. doi: 10.1016/j.tig.2011.05.008. Epub 2011 Jul 15.


Gene expression comprises multiple stages, from transcription to protein degradation. Although much is known about the regulation of each stage separately, an understanding of the regulatory coupling between the different stages is only beginning to emerge. For example, there is a clear crosstalk between translation and transcription, and the localization and stability of an mRNA in the cytoplasm could already be determined during transcription in the nucleus. We review a diversity of mechanisms discovered in recent years that couple the different stages of gene expression. We then speculate on the functional and evolutionary significance of this coupling and suggest certain systems-level functionalities that might be optimized via the various coupling modes. In particular, we hypothesize that coupling is often an economic strategy that allows biological systems to respond robustly and precisely to genetic and environmental perturbations.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cell Nucleus / genetics
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Cytoplasm / genetics
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Gene Regulatory Networks*
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism*
  • RNA Processing, Post-Transcriptional
  • RNA Stability
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • MicroRNAs
  • Transcription Factors