Mammalian RNA polymerase II (Pol II) transcription termination is an essential step in protein-coding gene expression that is mediated by pre-mRNA processing activities and DNA-encoded terminator elements. Although much is known about the role of pre-mRNA processing in termination, our understanding of the characteristics and generality of terminator elements is limited. Whereas promoter databases list up to 40,000 known and potential Pol II promoter sequences, fewer than ten Pol II terminator sequences have been described. Using our knowledge of the human β-globin terminator mechanism, we have developed a selection strategy for mapping mammalian Pol II terminator elements. We report the identification of 78 cotranscriptional cleavage (CoTC)-type terminator elements at endogenous gene loci. The results of this analysis pave the way for the full understanding of Pol II termination pathways and their roles in gene expression.
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