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Transcription. 2011 May;2(3):103-108.

Inhibiting eukaryotic transcription: Which compound to choose? How to evaluate its activity?

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IBENS; UMR CNRS 8197; UA INSERM 1024; Paris, France.


This review first discusses ways in which we can evaluate transcription inhibition, describe changes in nuclear structure due to transcription inhibition, and report on genes that are paradoxically stimulated by transcription inhibition. Next, it summarizes the characteristics and mechanisms of commonly used inhibitors: α-amanitin is highly selective for RNAP II and RNAP III but its action is slow, actinomycin D is fast but its selectivity is poor, CDK9 inhibitors such as DRB and flavopiridol are fast and reversible but many genes escape transcription inhibition. New compounds, such as triptolide, are fast and selective and able to completely arrest transcription by triggering rapid degradation of RNAP II.

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