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Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2008 Jun;20(3):334-40. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2008 May 29.

The multi-tasking P-TEFb complex.

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  • 1Regulatory Biology Laboratory, The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, 10010 N. Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA 92037-1099, USA.


P-TEFb (CycT1:Cdk9), the metazoan RNA polymerase II Ser2 C-terminal domain (CTD) kinase, regulates transcription elongation at many genes and integrates mRNA synthesis with histone modification, pre-mRNA processing, and mRNA export. Recruitment of P-TEFb to target genes requires deubiquitination of H2Bub, phosphorylation of H3S10, and the bromodomain protein, Brd4. Brd4 activates growth-related genes in the G1 phase of the cell cycle and can also tether P-TEFb to mitotic chromosomes, possibly to mark sites of active transcription throughout cell division. P-TEFb co-operates with c-Myc during transactivation and cell transformation, and also requires SKIP (c-Ski-interacting protein), an mRNA elongation and splicing factor. Some functions of the P-TEFb/Ser2P CTD are executed by the Spt6 transcription elongation factor, which binds directly to the phosphorylated CTD and recruits the Iws1 ('interacts with Spt6') protein. Iws1, in turn, interacts with the REF1/Aly nuclear export adaptor and stimulates the kinetics of mRNA export. Given the prominent role of Spt6 in regulating chromatin structure, the CTD-bound Spt6:Iws1 complex may also control histone modifications during elongation. Following transcription, P-TEFb accompanies the mature mRNA to the cytoplasm to promote translation elongation.

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