Epigenetic regulation of noncoding RNA transcription by mammalian RNA polymerase III

Epigenomics. 2017 Feb;9(2):171-187. doi: 10.2217/epi-2016-0108.


RNA polymerase III (Pol III) synthesizes a range of medium-sized noncoding RNAs (collectively 'Pol III genes') whose early established biological roles were so essential that they were considered 'housekeeping genes'. Besides these fundamental functions, diverse unconventional roles of mammalian Pol III genes have recently been recognized and their expression must be exquisitely controlled. In this review, we summarize the epigenetic regulation of Pol III genes by chromatin structure, histone modification and CpG DNA methylation. We also recapitulate the association between dysregulation of Pol III genes and diseases such as cancer and neurological disorders. Additionally, we will discuss why in-depth molecular studies of Pol III genes have not been attempted and how nc886, a Pol III gene, may resolve this issue.

Keywords: RNA polymerase III; epigenetic regulation; nc886.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • RNA Polymerase III / genetics*
  • RNA, Untranslated / genetics*
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Chromatin
  • Histones
  • RNA, Untranslated
  • RNA Polymerase III