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J Cell Sci. 2003 Sep 15;116(Pt 18):3667-75.

The mediator coactivator complex: functional and physical roles in transcriptional regulation.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Division of Nucleic Acids Enzymology, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA.


In vivo, the DNA is packed into chromatin and transcription is dependent upon activators that recruit other factors to reverse the repressive effects of chromatin. The response to activators requires additional factors referred to as coactivators. One such coactivator, mediator, is a multi-subunit complex capable of responding to different activators. It plays an key role in activation, bridging DNA-bound activators, the general transcriptional machinery, especially RNA polymerase II, and the core promoter. Its subunits are necessary for a variety of positive and negative regulatory processes and serve as the direct targets of activators themselves. In vivo and in vitro studies support various roles for mediator in transcription initiation, while structural studies demonstrate that it engages in multiple interactions with RNA polymerase II, and adopts conformations that are activator specific.

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