Control of transcriptional elongation

Annu Rev Genet. 2013;47:483-508. doi: 10.1146/annurev-genet-110711-155440. Epub 2013 Sep 11.


Elongation is becoming increasingly recognized as a critical step in eukaryotic transcriptional regulation. Although traditional genetic and biochemical studies have identified major players of transcriptional elongation, our understanding of the importance and roles of these factors is evolving rapidly through the recent advances in genome-wide and single-molecule technologies. Here, we focus on how elongation can modulate the transcriptional outcome through the rate-liming step of RNA polymerase II (Pol II) pausing near promoters and how the participating factors were identified. Among the factors we describe are the pausing factors--NELF (negative elongation factor) and DSIF (DRB sensitivity-inducing factor)--and P-TEFb (positive elongation factor b), which is the key player in pause release. We also describe the high-resolution view of Pol II pausing and propose nonexclusive models for how pausing is achieved. We then discuss Pol II elongation through the bodies of genes and the roles of FACT and SPT6, factors that allow Pol II to move through nucleosomes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / physiology
  • Drosophila Proteins / physiology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics
  • Eukaryotic Cells / metabolism
  • High Mobility Group Proteins / physiology
  • Humans
  • Mammals / genetics
  • Models, Genetic
  • Nucleosomes / genetics
  • Phosphorylation
  • Prokaryotic Cells / metabolism
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics
  • Protein Interaction Mapping
  • RNA Caps / genetics
  • RNA Polymerase II / genetics
  • RNA Splicing
  • Ribosomes / genetics
  • Transcription Elongation, Genetic / physiology*
  • Transcription Factors / physiology
  • Transcriptional Elongation Factors / physiology


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • High Mobility Group Proteins
  • Nucleosomes
  • RNA Caps
  • SSRP1 protein, human
  • SUPT6H protein, human
  • Transcription Factors
  • Transcriptional Elongation Factors
  • RNA Polymerase II