Enhancer function: mechanistic and genome-wide insights come together

Mol Cell. 2014 Jul 3;55(1):5-14. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2014.06.015.


Enhancers establish spatial or temporal patterns of gene expression that are critical for development, yet our understanding of how these DNA cis-regulatory elements function from a distance to increase transcription of their target genes and shape the cellular transcriptome has been gleaned primarily from studies of individual genes or gene families. High-throughput sequencing studies place enhancer-gene interactions within the 3D context of chromosome folding, inviting a new look at enhancer function and stimulating provocative new questions. Here, we integrate these whole-genome studies with recent mechanistic studies to illuminate how enhancers physically interact with target genes, how enhancer activity is regulated during development, and the role of noncoding RNAs transcribed from enhancers in their function.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Chromatin
  • DNA Methylation
  • Enhancer Elements, Genetic / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Genome*
  • Models, Genetic*
  • RNA Polymerase II / metabolism
  • RNA Polymerase II / physiology
  • RNA, Untranslated / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Transcriptome


  • Chromatin
  • RNA, Untranslated
  • Transcription Factors
  • RNA Polymerase II