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The negative elongation factor NELF is a key component of an early elongation checkpoint generally located within 100 bp of the transcription start site of protein-coding genes. Negotiation of this checkpoint and conversion to productive elongation require phosphorylation of the carboxy-terminal domain of RNA polymerase II (pol II), NELF, and DRB sensitivity-inducing factor (DSIF) by positive transcription elongation factor b (P-TEFb). P-TEFb is dispensable for transcription of the noncoding U2 snRNA genes, suggesting that a NELF-dependent checkpoint is absent. However, we find that NELF at the end of the 800-bp U2 gene transcription unit and RNA interference-mediated knockdown of NELF causes a termination defect. NELF is also associated 800 bp downstream of the transcription start site of the β-actin gene, where a "late" P-TEFb-dependent checkpoint occurs. Interestingly, both genes have an extended nucleosome-depleted region up to the NELF-dependent control point. In both cases, transcription through this region is P-TEFb independent, implicating chromatin in the formation of the terminator/checkpoint. Furthermore, CTCF colocalizes with NELF on the U2 and β-actin genes, raising the possibility that it helps the positioning and/or function of the NELF-dependent control point on these genes. Copyright © 2009, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.

Original publication




Journal article


Molecular and Cellular Biology

Publication Date





4002 - 4013