Noncoding RNAs Set the Stage for RNA Polymerase II Transcription

Trends Genet. 2021 Mar;37(3):279-291. doi: 10.1016/j.tig.2020.09.013. Epub 2020 Oct 9.


Effective synthesis of mammalian messenger (m)RNAs depends on many factors that together direct RNA polymerase II (pol II) through the different stages of the transcription cycle and ensure efficient cotranscriptional processing of mRNAs. In addition to the many proteins involved in transcription initiation, elongation, and termination, several noncoding (nc)RNAs also function as global transcriptional regulators. Understanding the mode of action of these non-protein regulators has been an intense area of research in recent years. Here, we describe how these ncRNAs influence key regulatory steps of the transcription process, to affect large numbers of genes. Through direct association with pol II or by modulating the activity of transcription or RNA processing factors, these regulatory RNAs perform critical roles in gene expression.

Keywords: 7SK RNA; B2 RNA; U1 snRNP; eRNA; gene expression; regulatory RNAs.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromatin / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / genetics
  • Humans
  • RNA Polymerase II / genetics*
  • RNA Processing, Post-Transcriptional / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Untranslated / genetics*
  • Transcription, Genetic*


  • Chromatin
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Untranslated
  • RNA Polymerase II