Transcribing through the nucleosome

Trends Biochem Sci. 2014 Dec;39(12):577-86. doi: 10.1016/j.tibs.2014.10.004.


The packaging of DNA into chromatin limits sequence accessibility, which affects all DNA-based processes including transcription. Indeed, the fundamental unit of chromatin, the nucleosome, presents a strong barrier to transcription in vitro. Since the discovery of the nucleosome barrier, the question of how the RNA polymerase II (Pol II) machinery overcomes nucleosomes at high speeds in vivo has remained a central question in chromatin biology. In this review, we discuss the nature of the nucleosomal barrier to transcription and highlight recent findings that provide new insights into the mechanism of transcription through nucleosomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromatin Assembly and Disassembly
  • Eukaryota
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological*
  • Nucleosomes / metabolism*
  • RNA Polymerase II / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic*


  • Nucleosomes
  • RNA Polymerase II