Enhancers and promoters - two sides of the same coin?


New oppinion piece in Trends in Genetics together with Robin Andersson and Charles Danko exploring the differences and similarities between enhancer regions and promoters.

A unified architecture of transcriptional regulatory elements

Gene expression is precisely controlled in time and space through the integration of signals that act at gene promoters and gene-distal enhancers. Classically, promoters and enhancers are considered separate classes of regulatory elements, often distinguished by histone modifications. However, recent studies have revealed broad similarities between enhancers and promoters, blurring the distinction: active enhancers often initiate transcription, and some gene promoters have the potential to enhance transcriptional output of other promoters. Here, we propose a model in which promoters and enhancers are considered a single class of functional element, with a unified architecture for transcription initiation. The context of interacting regulatory elements and the surrounding sequences determine local transcriptional output as well as the enhancer and promoter activities of individual elements.

Trends in Genetics in press: doi:10.1016/j.tig.2015.05.007

Also available as a preprint at Bioarxive.


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