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Nat Genet. 2007 Dec;39(12):1507-11. Epub 2007 Nov 11.

RNA polymerase is poised for activation across the genome.

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Laboratory of Molecular Carcinogenesis, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709, USA.


Regulation of gene expression is integral to the development and survival of all organisms. Transcription begins with the assembly of a pre-initiation complex at the gene promoter, followed by initiation of RNA synthesis and the transition to productive elongation. In many cases, recruitment of RNA polymerase II (Pol II) to a promoter is necessary and sufficient for activation of genes. However, there are a few notable exceptions to this paradigm, including heat shock genes and several proto-oncogenes, whose expression is attenuated by regulated stalling of polymerase elongation within the promoter-proximal region. To determine the importance of polymerase stalling for transcription regulation, we carried out a genome-wide search for Drosophila melanogaster genes with Pol II stalled within the promoter-proximal region. Our data show that stalling is widespread, occurring at hundreds of genes that respond to stimuli and developmental signals. This finding indicates a role for regulation of polymerase elongation in the transcriptional responses to dynamic environmental and developmental cues.

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