The code and beyond: transcription regulation by the RNA polymerase II carboxy-terminal domain

Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2017 Apr;18(4):263-273. doi: 10.1038/nrm.2017.10. Epub 2017 Mar 1.


The carboxy-terminal domain (CTD) extends from the largest subunit of RNA polymerase II (Pol II) as a long, repetitive and largely unstructured polypeptide chain. Throughout the transcription process, the CTD is dynamically modified by post-translational modifications, many of which facilitate or hinder the recruitment of key regulatory factors of Pol II that collectively constitute the 'CTD code'. Recent studies have revealed how the physicochemical properties of the CTD promote phase separation in the presence of other low-complexity domains. Here, we discuss the intricacies of the CTD code and how the newly characterized physicochemical properties of the CTD expand the function of the CTD beyond the code.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Domains
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • RNA Polymerase II / chemistry*
  • RNA Polymerase II / genetics
  • RNA Polymerase II / metabolism*
  • Transcription, Genetic*


  • RNA Polymerase II