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Genetics Research International
Volume 2012, Article ID 170173, 5 pages
Review Article

Control of Transcriptional Elongation by RNA Polymerase II: A Retrospective

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, CO 80045, USA

Received 12 September 2011; Accepted 11 October 2011

Academic Editor: Sebastián Chávez

Copyright © 2012 Kris Brannan and David L. Bentley. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The origins of our current understanding of control of transcription elongation lie in pioneering experiments that mapped RNA polymerase II on viral and cellular genes. These studies first uncovered the surprising excess of polymerase molecules that we now know to be situated at the at the 5′ ends of most genes in multicellular organisms. The pileup of pol II near transcription start sites reflects a ubiquitous bottle-neck that limits elongation right at the start of the transcription elongation. Subsequent seminal work identified conserved protein factors that positively and negatively control the flux of polymerase through this bottle-neck, and make a major contribution to control of gene expression.