Rapid Rates of Pol II Elongation in the Drosophila Embryo

Takashi Fukaya, Bomyi Lim, Michael Levine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Elongation of RNA polymerase II (Pol II) is thought to be an important mechanism for regulating gene expression [1]. We measured the first wave of de novo transcription in living Drosophila embryos using dual-fluorescence detection of nascent transcripts containing 5′ MS2 and 3′ PP7 RNA stem loops. Pol II elongation rates of 2.4–3.0 kb/min were observed, approximately twice as fast as earlier estimates [2–6]. The revised rates permit substantial levels of zygotic gene activity prior to the mid-blastula transition. We also provide evidence that variable rates of elongation are not a significant source of differential gene activity, suggesting that transcription initiation and Pol II release are the key determinants of gene control in development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1387-1391
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 8 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


  • Drosophila embryo
  • Pol II elongation
  • live imaging
  • transcription


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