Pol II (RNA polymerase II) transcribes the genes encoding proteins and non-coding snRNAs (small nuclear RNAs). The largest subunit of Pol II contains a distinctive CTD (C-terminal domain) comprising a repetitive heptad amino acid sequence, Tyr1-Ser2-Pro3-Thr4-Ser5-Pro6-Ser7. This domain is now known to play a major role in the processes of transcription and co-transcriptional RNA processing in expression of both snRNA and protein-coding genes. The heptapeptide repeat unit can be extensively modified in vivo and covalent modifications of the CTD during the transcription cycle result in the ordered recruitment of RNA-processing factors. The most studied modifications are the phosphorylation of the serine residues in position 2 and 5 (Ser2 and Ser5), which play an important role in the co-transcriptional processing of both mRNA and snRNA. An additional, recently identified CTD modification, phosphorylation of the serine residue in position 7 (Ser7) of the heptapeptide, is however specifically required for expression of snRNA genes. These findings provide interesting insights into the control of gene-specific Pol II function.

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