DNA response elements are DNA sequences that are could be found upstream, downstream of genes that regulate gene expression at the transcriptional level.

One type -Enhancers- bind specific transcription factors called activators, this binding leads to the bending of DNA, bringing the otherwise distal enhancer near the promoter region of the gene, leading to induced transcription.

My question is:

How and by what mechanism do enhancers induce and increase transcription rates? i.e how does the interaction between the activators and the transcription complex, increase transcription rates?


1 Answer 1


The activators are proteins that bind to specific DNA sequences in the enhancer region. These activators also bind to the RNA polymerase and other associated members of the transcription complex, which makes it more likely for an RNA polymerase to hang around the promoter sequence of the region it enhances.

This in turn increases the chance of the gene being transcribed.

It's basically a little magnet that sucks in the RNA polymerase and then nudges it towards the promoter.

  • $\begingroup$ If the RNA polymerase is already near the promoter, why would it need an activator to bind to it? $\endgroup$
    – Positron12
    Jan 10, 2020 at 10:22
  • $\begingroup$ This way if the RNA polymerase is near the promoter it binds to it, but if it's near the enhancer and the activators it also binds to the promoter. It extends the reach of the promoter, like how a magnet can help you grab things from further away, even though you can still grab them by yourself if they're within arm's reach. $\endgroup$
    – Thymine
    Jan 10, 2020 at 10:36
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, can you please provide refrences that propose this mechanism. $\endgroup$
    – Positron12
    Jan 10, 2020 at 12:29
  • $\begingroup$ There's a pretty good review here ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6795546/?report=classic $\endgroup$
    – Thymine
    Jan 10, 2020 at 13:26
  • $\begingroup$ Please edit your post to include reference information; without that support your answer is indistinguishable from opinion. Note that comments are ephemeral and often overlooked by users, so they should not be used for anything that is important for the post. This is a good example of how to format references. ——— You may also want to consult the help pages for additional advice on How to Answer effectively on this site. Thank you! 😊 $\endgroup$
    – tyersome
    Oct 9, 2020 at 1:08

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