Cdk7: a kinase at the core of transcription and in the crosshairs of cancer drug discovery

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


The transcription cycle of RNA polymerase II (Pol II) is regulated by a set of cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs). Cdk7, associated with the transcription initiation factor TFIIH, is both an effector CDK that phosphorylates Pol II and other targets within the transcriptional machinery, and a CDK-activating kinase (CAK) for at least one other essential CDK involved in transcription. Recent studies have illuminated Cdk7 functions that are executed throughout the Pol II transcription cycle, from promoter clearance and promoter-proximal pausing, to co-transcriptional chromatin modification in gene bodies, to mRNA 3´-end formation and termination. Cdk7 has also emerged as a target of small-molecule inhibitors that show promise in the treatment of cancer and inflammation. The challenges now are to identify the relevant targets of Cdk7 at each step of the transcription cycle, and to understand how heightened dependence on an essential CDK emerges in cancer, and might be exploited therapeutically.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-56
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - 15 Mar 2019


  • Cdk7
  • RNA polymerase II
  • cancer drug discovery
  • mRNA-capping
  • promoter-proximal pausing


Dive into the research topics of 'Cdk7: a kinase at the core of transcription and in the crosshairs of cancer drug discovery'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this