Collaborative Resources for
Learning Developmental Biology
Collaborative Resources for Learning Developmental Biology
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Focused and Dispersed Modes of Transcription
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James Kadonaga

Published on SDB CoRe: Jan 31 2012

Organisms: Invertebrates; Vertebrates; Plants
Gene Regulation: Transcriptional Control
Organism: Drosophila
Stage of Development: Embryo

Object Description

The RNA polymerase II core promoter is a structurally and functionally diverse transcriptional regulatory element. One aspect of this diversity can be seen in the focused and dispersed patterns of transcription initiation. In focused transcription, there is either a single predominant transcription start site or a cluster of start sites in a small region of several nucleotides. In dispersed transcription, there are multiple weak start sites that are distributed over a larger region of about 50 to 100 nucleotides. Focused promoters are generally associated with regulated genes, whereas dispersed promoters are typically found in housekeeping genes. From a teleological standpoint, this arrangement makes sense because a regulated gene could be effectively controlled via a single start site, whereas constitutive genes could maintain a steady level of transcription through the use of multiple weak start sites, any of which could be varied with only a minimal effect on the overall expression. WIREs Dev Biol 2012. DOI: 10.1002/wdev.21


Kadonaga, J.T. Perspectives on the RNA polymerase II core promoter. WIREs Dev Biol, 2012, 1:40-51.

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