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Trends Genet. 2019 Aug;35(8):553-564. doi: 10.1016/j.tig.2019.05.005. Epub 2019 Jun 15.

Transcriptional Control by Premature Termination: A Forgotten Mechanism.

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Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3RE, UK; Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Faculty of Biology, Adam Mickiewicz University, Umultowska 89, 61-614 Poznań, Poland; Center for Advanced Technology, Adam Mickiewicz University, Umultowska 89c, 61-614 Poznań, Poland. Electronic address:
Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3RE, UK.


The concept of early termination as an important means of transcriptional control has long been established. Even so, its role in metazoan gene expression is underappreciated. Recent technological advances provide novel insights into premature transcription termination (PTT). This process is frequent, widespread, and can occur close to the transcription start site (TSS), or within the gene body. Stable prematurely terminated transcripts contribute to the transcriptome as instances of alternative polyadenylation (APA). Independently of transcript stability and function, premature termination opposes the formation of full-length transcripts, thereby negatively regulating gene expression, especially of transcriptional regulators. Premature termination can be beneficial or harmful, depending on its context. As a result, multiple factors have evolved to control this process.


alternative last exon (ALE); alternative polyadenylation (APA); intronic polyadenylation (IPA); premature transcription termination; transcription attenuation

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