The Human Integrator Complex Facilitates Transcriptional Elongation by Endonucleolytic Cleavage of Nascent Transcripts

Cell Rep. 2020 Jul 21;32(3):107917. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2020.107917.


Transcription by RNA polymerase II (RNAPII) is pervasive in the human genome. However, the mechanisms controlling transcription at promoters and enhancers remain enigmatic. Here, we demonstrate that Integrator subunit 11 (INTS11), the catalytic subunit of the Integrator complex, regulates transcription at these loci through its endonuclease activity. Promoters of genes require INTS11 to cleave nascent transcripts associated with paused RNAPII and induce their premature termination in the proximity of the +1 nucleosome. The turnover of RNAPII permits the subsequent recruitment of an elongation-competent RNAPII complex, leading to productive elongation. In contrast, enhancers require INTS11 catalysis not to evict paused RNAPII but rather to terminate enhancer RNA transcription beyond the +1 nucleosome. These findings are supported by the differential occupancy of negative elongation factor (NELF), SPT5, and tyrosine-1-phosphorylated RNAPII. This study elucidates the role of Integrator in mediating transcriptional elongation at human promoters through the endonucleolytic cleavage of nascent transcripts and the dynamic turnover of RNAPII.

Keywords: RNA polymerase II; RNA processing; elongation; enhancers; integrator; pause-release; promoters; termination; transcription; traveling ratio.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Biocatalysis
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Endonucleases / metabolism*
  • Enhancer Elements, Genetic / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Nucleosomes / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • RNA / metabolism
  • RNA Polymerase II / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Transcription Elongation, Genetic*
  • Transcription Termination, Genetic


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Nucleosomes
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA
  • RNA Polymerase II
  • Endonucleases