Gene transcription in the nucleus of eukaryotic cells is carried out by three related multisubunit RNA polymerases, Pol I, Pol II and Pol III. Although the structure and function of the polymerases have been studied extensively, little is known about their biogenesis and their transport from the cytoplasm (where the subunits are synthesized) to the nucleus. Recent studies have revealed polymerase assembly intermediates and putative assembly factors, as well as factors required for Pol II nuclear import. In this review, we integrate the available data into a model of Pol II biogenesis that provides a framework for future analysis of the biogenesis of all RNA polymerases.
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