A group of interesting papers popped up on ScienceExpress this past week. These papers (by Core et al., Seila et al., He et al., and Preker et al.) all describe characterizations of unusual patterns of transcription in human cells. The bottom line (well, one bottom line – there are lots of interesting data in these studies, and the nuances may take readers in slightly different directions) is that, for numerous promoters, transcription extends in both directions, not just in the one direction that is usually associated with productive (= leading to synthesis of a processed and translated mRNA) transcription. Moreover, this bidirectional transcription is quite distinct from that associated productive transcription, in that it yields short and relatively unstable RNAs. More elaboration follows below the fold. As always, enjoy.