Basic mechanism of transcription by RNA polymerase II

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2013 Jan;1829(1):20-8. doi: 10.1016/j.bbagrm.2012.08.009. Epub 2012 Sep 6.


RNA polymerase II-like enzymes carry out transcription of genomes in Eukaryota, Archaea, and some viruses. They also exhibit fundamental similarity to RNA polymerases from bacteria, chloroplasts, and mitochondria. In this review we take an inventory of recent studies illuminating different steps of basic transcription mechanism, likely common for most multi-subunit RNA polymerases. Through the amalgamation of structural and computational chemistry data we attempt to highlight the most feasible reaction pathway for the two-metal nucleotidyl transfer mechanism, and to evaluate the way catalysis can be linked to translocation in the mechano-chemical cycle catalyzed by RNA polymerase II. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: RNA polymerase II Transcript Elongation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Catalysis
  • Catalytic Domain / genetics
  • Catalytic Domain / physiology
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Molecular
  • RNA Polymerase II / chemistry
  • RNA Polymerase II / genetics
  • RNA Polymerase II / metabolism
  • RNA Polymerase II / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Transcription, Genetic / genetics
  • Transcription, Genetic / physiology*


  • RNA Polymerase II