Mediator and human disease

Jason M. Spaeth, Nam Hee Kim, Thomas G. Boyer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Since the identification of a metazoan counterpart to yeast Mediator nearly 15 years ago, a convergent body of biochemical and molecular genetic studies have confirmed their structural and functional relationship as an integrative hub through which regulatory information conveyed by signal activated transcription factors is transduced to RNA polymerase II. Nonetheless, metazoan Mediator complexes have been shaped during evolution by substantive diversification and expansion in both the number and sequence of their constituent subunits, with important implications for the development of multicellular organisms. The appearance of unique interaction surfaces within metazoan Mediator complexes for transcription factors of diverse species-specific origins extended the role of Mediator to include an essential function in coupling developmentally coded signals with precise gene expression output sufficient to specify cell fate and function. The biological significance of Mediator in human development, suggested by genetic studies in lower metazoans, is emphatically illustrated by an expanding list of human pathologies linked to genetic variation or aberrant expression of its individual subunits. Here, we review our current body of knowledge concerning associations between individual Mediator subunits and specific pathological disorders. When established, molecular etiologies underlying genotype-phenotype correlations are addressed, and we anticipate that future progress in this critical area will help identify therapeutic targets across a range of human pathologies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)776-787
Number of pages12
JournalSeminars in Cell and Developmental Biology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Sep 2011


  • Cancer
  • Developmental disorder
  • Disease
  • Mediator
  • Transcription

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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