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EMBO Rep. 2009 Sep;10(9):973-82. doi: 10.1038/embor.2009.181. Epub 2009 Aug 14.

Pervasive transcription constitutes a new level of eukaryotic genome regulation.

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Centre de Génétique Moléculaire-Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Université of Pierre et Marie Curie, 91198 Gif-sur-Yvette, Paris 6, France.


During the past few years, it has become increasingly evident that the expression of eukaryotic genomes is far more complex than had been previously noted. The idea that the transcriptome is derived exclusively from protein-coding genes and some specific non-coding RNAs--such as snRNAs, snoRNAs, tRNAs or rRNAs--has been swept away by numerous studies indicating that RNA polymerase II can be found at almost any genomic location. Pervasive transcription is widespread and, far from being a futile process, has a crucial role in controlling gene expression and genomic plasticity. Here, we review recent findings that point to cryptic transcription as a fundamental component of the regulation of eukaryotic genomes.

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