RNA polymerase II

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RNA polymerase II is found in eukaryotic cells and is structurally similar to RNA polymerase I and III with all three sharing common subunits. It is used to transcribe all protein-encoding genes, and in addition, many of the small nucleolar RNAs (snoRNA) and the majority of the micro RNAs (miRNA)[1]. RNA polymerase II cannot transcribe DNA on its own: the many elements that make up the pre-initiation complex (PIC) must assemble at the site of the promoter in order for RNA polymerase II to be recruited and begin transcription [2]. The PIC is made up of Transcription Factors: TFIID, TFIIA, TFIIB, TFIIF, TFIIE, TFIIH [3].

It has a very similar structure to its prokaryotic counterpart but is made up of many more subunits with a total of twelve.


  1. Wilhelm E et al (2012)'Probing Endogenous RNA Polymerase II Pre-initiation Complexes by Electrophoretic Mobility Shift Assay', Methods Mol Biol. 809:63-74
  2. Seizl M et al. (2011). A Conserved GA Element in TATA-Less RNA Polymerase II Promoters. PLoS One. 6 (11), e27595
  3. D. B. Nikolov et al. (1997). RNA polymerase II transcription initiation: A structural view. PNAS. 94 (1), 15-22.
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