Coupling polymerase pausing and chromatin landscapes for precise regulation of transcription

Laboratory of Molecular Carcinogenesis, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (Impact Factor: 4.66). 03/2012; 1819(7):700-6. DOI: 10.1016/j.bbagrm.2012.02.015
Source: PubMed


Altering gene expression in response to stimuli is a pivotal mechanism through which organisms execute developmental programs and respond to changes in their environment. Packaging of promoter DNA into chromatin can greatly impact the ability of RNA polymerase II to access and transcribe a gene. Promoter chromatin environments thus play a central role in establishing transcriptional output appropriate for specific environmental conditions or developmental states. Recent genomic studies have illuminated general principles of chromatin organization and deepened our understanding of how promoter sequence and nucleosome architecture may impact gene expression. Concurrently, pausing of polymerase during early elongation has been recognized as an important event influencing transcription of genes within stimulus-responsive networks. Promoters regulated by pausing are now recognized to possess a distinct chromatin architecture that may facilitate the plasticity of gene expression in response to signaling events. Here we review advances in understanding chromatin and pausing, and explore how coupling Pol II pausing to distinct promoter architectures may help organisms achieve flexible yet precise transcriptional control. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Chromatin in time and space.

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