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Trends Biochem Sci. 2013 Dec;38(12):603-11. doi: 10.1016/j.tibs.2013.09.002. Epub 2013 Oct 11.

Structural insights into transcription initiation by RNA polymerase II.

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Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, 1100 Fairview Ave N, PO Box 19024, Mailstop A1-162, Seattle, WA 98109, USA.


Transcriptional regulation is one of the most important steps in control of cell identity, growth, differentiation, and development. Many signaling pathways controlling these processes ultimately target the core transcription machinery that, for protein coding genes, consists of RNA polymerase II (Pol II) and the general transcription factors (GTFs). New studies on the structure and mechanism of the core assembly and how it interfaces with promoter DNA and coactivator complexes have given tremendous insight into early steps in the initiation process, genome-wide binding, and mechanisms conserved for all nuclear and archaeal Pols. Here, we review recent developments in dissecting the architecture of the Pol II core machinery with a focus on early and regulated steps in transcription initiation.


RNA polymerase II; SAGA; TFIID; TFIIH; coactivators; mediator; open complex; preinitiation complex (PIC); transcription; translocase

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