Enhancer RNA facilitates NELF release from immediate early genes

Katie Schaukowitch, Jae Yeol Joo, Xihui Liu, Jonathan K. Watts, Carlos Martinez, Tae Kyung Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

276 Scopus citations


Enhancer RNAs (eRNAs) are a class of long noncoding RNAs (lncRNA) expressed from active enhancers, whose function and action mechanism are yet to befirmly established. Here we show that eRNAs facilitate the transition of paused RNA polymerase II (RNAPII) into productive elongation by acting as a decoy for the negative elongation factor (NELF) complex upon induction of immediate early genes (IEGs) in neurons. eRNAs are synthesized priorto the culmination of target gene transcription andinteract with the NELF complex. Knockdown of eRNAs expressed at neuronal enhancers impairs transient release of NELF from the specific target promoters during transcriptional activation, coinciding with a decrease in target mRNA induction. The enhancer-promoter interaction was unaffected by eRNA knockdown. Instead, chromatin looping might enable eRNAs to act locally at a specific promoter. Our findings highlight the spatiotemporally regulated action mechanism of eRNAs during early transcriptional elongation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-42
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular cell
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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