PAF1 regulation of promoter-proximal pause release via enhancer activation

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Science  31 Aug 2017:
DOI: 10.1126/science.aan3269

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Gene expression in metazoans is regulated by RNA Polymerase II (Pol II) promoter-proximal pausing and its release. Previously, we identified that Pol II-associated factor 1 (PAF1) modulates the release of paused Pol II into productive elongation. Here, we find that PAF1 occupies transcriptional enhancers and restrains hyperactivation of a subset of these enhancers. Enhancer activation as the result of Paf1 loss releases Pol II from paused promoters of nearby PAF1 target genes. Knockout of PAF1-regulated enhancers attenuates the release of paused Pol II on PAF1 target genes without major interference in the establishment of pausing at their cognate promoters. Thus, a subset of enhancers can primarily modulate gene expression by controlling the release of paused Pol II in a PAF1-dependent manner.

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