Send to

Choose Destination
Nat Rev Microbiol. 2014 Sep;12(9):647-53. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro3316. Epub 2014 Jul 28.

Pervasive transcription: illuminating the dark matter of bacterial transcriptomes.

Author information

Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health, Albany, New York 12208, USA, and the Department of Biomedical Sciences, University at Albany-State University of New York, Albany, New York 12201, USA.
Institute of Microbiology and Infection, School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK.


The conventional view of transcription posits that mRNAs are generated from the coding DNA strand and are delineated by gene boundaries; however, recent reports have mapped transcription start sites to unexpected locations in bacterial genomes, including the non-coding strand. The resultant RNAs were previously dismissed as artefacts, but models that describe such events as 'pervasive transcription' are now gaining support. In this Opinion article, we discuss our current understanding of pervasive transcription, its genetic origin and its regulation. On the basis of existing observations, we propose that RNAs that result from pervasive transcription are more than 'transcriptional noise' and have important functions in gene regulation and genome evolution.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group
Loading ...
Support Center