A structural model of elongating RNA polymerase II (cyan) in the act of transcribing a gene. The DNA strands are yellow and green, respectively, while the newly synthesized RNA is red.

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In contrast to the ATP-driven power-strokes typical of DNA helicases, RNAPII moves by Brownian motion.

Interestingly, this means that although it moves rapidly forward on average, the polymerase can also perform retrograde motion (backtracking).

Transcript elongation by RNAPII in vitro is known to be a highly discontinuous process, involving frequent pausing, backtracking, and transcriptional arrest, and a plethora of elongation factors are required to stimulate its progression.

We study the basic mechanism of transcript elongation and gene traffic in general, and also actively seek to isolate new elongation factors and characterize their activity, in vivo and in vitro. Much of our recent focus has been on factors that affect co-transcriptional mRNA splicing and transcriptional termination.