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RNA. Aug 1995; 1(6): 610–623.
PMCID: PMC1369305

Purification and characterization of the Upf1 protein: a factor involved in translation and mRNA degradation.


mRNA degradation is an important control point in the regulation of gene expression and has been shown to be linked to the process of translation. One clear example of this linkage is the observation that nonsense mutations in a gene can accelerate the decay of the corresponding mRNA. In the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the product of the UPF1 gene, harboring zinc finger, NTP hydrolysis, and helicase motifs, was shown to be a trans-acting factor in this decay pathway. A UPF1 gene disruption results in stabilization of nonsense-containing mRNAs and leads to a nonsense suppression phenotype. As a first step toward understanding the molecular and biochemical mechanism of nonsense-mediated mRNA decay, we have purified Upf1p from a yeast extract and characterized its nucleic acid-dependent NTPase activity, helicase activity, and nucleic acid binding properties. The results presented in this paper demonstrate that Upf1p contains both RNA- and DNA-dependent ATPase activities and RNA and DNA helicase activities. In the absence of ATP, Upf1p binds to single-stranded RNA or DNA, whereas hydrolysis of ATP facilitates its release from single-stranded nucleic acid. Based on these results, the role of Upf1p's biochemical activities in mRNA decay and translation are discussed.

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