Gene expression is an intricately regulated process that is at the basis of cell differentiation, the maintenance of cell identity and the cellular responses to environmental changes. Alternative splicing, the process by which multiple functionally distinct transcripts are generated from a single gene, is one of the main mechanisms that contribute to expand the coding capacity of genomes and help explain the level of complexity achieved by higher organisms. Eukaryotic transcription is subject to multiple layers of regulation both intrinsic — such as promoter structure — and dynamic, allowing the cell to respond to internal and external signals. Similarly, alternative splicing choices are affected by all of these aspects, mainly through the regulation of transcription elongation, making it a regulatory knob on a par with the regulation of gene expression levels. This review aims to recapitulate some of the history and stepping-stones that led to the paradigms held today about transcription and splicing regulation, with major focus on transcription elongation and its effect on alternative splicing.

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