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Nat Rev Genet. 2011 Nov 3;12(12):833-45. doi: 10.1038/nrg3055.

Controlling gene expression in response to stress.

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Cell Signaling Unit, Departament de Ciències Experimentals i de la Salut, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain.


Acute stress puts cells at risk, and rapid adaptation is crucial for maximizing cell survival. Cellular adaptation mechanisms include modification of certain aspects of cell physiology, such as the induction of efficient changes in the gene expression programmes by intracellular signalling networks. Recent studies using genome-wide approaches as well as single-cell transcription measurements, in combination with classical genetics, have shown that rapid and specific activation of gene expression can be accomplished by several different strategies. This article discusses how organisms can achieve generic and specific responses to different stresses by regulating gene expression at multiple stages of mRNA biogenesis from chromatin structure to transcription, mRNA stability and translation.

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