Chromatin and DNA sequences in defining promoters for transcription initiation

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • School of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, College of Medical and Dental Sciences, University of Birmingham, B15 2TT Edgbaston, Birmingham, UK. Electronic address:
  • Cellular Signaling and Nuclear Dynamics Program, Institut de Génétique et de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire (IGBMC), UMR 7104 CNRS, UdS, INSERM U964, BP 10142, F-67404 Illkirch Cedex, CU de Strasbourg, France; School of Biological Sciences, Nanyang Technological University, 60 Nanyang Drive, 637551, Singapore. Electronic address:


One of the key events in eukaryotic gene regulation and consequent transcription is the assembly of general transcription factors and RNA polymerase II into a functional pre-initiation complex at core promoters. An emerging view of complexity arising from a variety of promoter associated DNA motifs, their binding factors and recent discoveries in characterising promoter associated chromatin properties brings an old question back into the limelight: how is a promoter defined? In addition to position-dependent DNA sequence motifs, accumulating evidence suggests that several parallel acting mechanisms are involved in orchestrating a pattern marked by the state of chromatin and general transcription factor binding in preparation for defining transcription start sites. In this review we attempt to summarise these promoter features and discuss the available evidence pointing at their interactions in defining transcription initiation in developmental contexts. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Chromatin and epigenetic regulation of animal development.

Bibliographic note

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-28
Number of pages11
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014


  • Animals, Chromatin/genetics, Chromatin Assembly and Disassembly/physiology, Epigenesis, Genetic/physiology, Humans, RNA Polymerase II/genetics, Response Elements/physiology, Transcription Factors/genetics, Transcription Initiation, Genetic/physiology