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Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2011 May;12(5):283-94. doi: 10.1038/nrm3098. Epub 2011 Apr 13.

Unravelling the means to an end: RNA polymerase II transcription termination.

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Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts 02111, USA.


The pervasiveness of RNA synthesis in eukaryotes is largely the result of RNA polymerase II (Pol II)-mediated transcription, and termination of its activity is necessary to partition the genome and maintain the proper expression of neighbouring genes. Despite its ever-increasing biological significance, transcription termination remains one of the least understood processes in gene expression. However, recent mechanistic studies have revealed a striking convergence among several overlapping models of termination, including the poly(A)- and Sen1-dependent pathways, as well as new insights into the specificity of Pol II termination among its diverse gene targets. Broader knowledge of the role of Pol II carboxy-terminal domain phosphorylation in promoting alternative mechanisms of termination has also been gained.

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