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Annu Rev Biochem. 2003;72:449-79. Epub 2003 Mar 19.

The RNA polymerase II core promoter.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics, University of California, Los Angeles, California 90095-1662, USA.


The events leading to transcription of eukaryotic protein-coding genes culminate in the positioning of RNA polymerase II at the correct initiation site. The core promoter, which can extend ~35 bp upstream and/or downstream of this site, plays a central role in regulating initiation. Specific DNA elements within the core promoter bind the factors that nucleate the assembly of a functional preinitiation complex and integrate stimulatory and repressive signals from factors bound at distal sites. Although core promoter structure was originally thought to be invariant, a remarkable degree of diversity has become apparent. This article reviews the structural and functional diversity of the RNA polymerase II core promoter.

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