Promoter-proximal pausing of RNA polymerase II: emerging roles in metazoans

Nat Rev Genet. 2012 Oct;13(10):720-31. doi: 10.1038/nrg3293.


Recent years have witnessed a sea change in our understanding of transcription regulation: whereas traditional models focused solely on the events that brought RNA polymerase II (Pol II) to a gene promoter to initiate RNA synthesis, emerging evidence points to the pausing of Pol II during early elongation as a widespread regulatory mechanism in higher eukaryotes. Current data indicate that pausing is particularly enriched at genes in signal-responsive pathways. Here the evidence for pausing of Pol II from recent high-throughput studies will be discussed, as well as the potential interconnected functions of promoter-proximally paused Pol II.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Gene Expression Regulation / genetics
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic* / genetics
  • Protein Binding / physiology
  • RNA Polymerase II / metabolism*
  • RNA Polymerase II / physiology*
  • Regulatory Sequences, Nucleic Acid / genetics
  • Regulatory Sequences, Nucleic Acid / physiology
  • Transcription, Genetic / physiology


  • RNA Polymerase II