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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Apr 28;106(17):7028-33. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0900028106. Epub 2009 Apr 16.

Progressive lengthening of 3' untranslated regions of mRNAs by alternative polyadenylation during mouse embryonic development.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, New Jersey Medical School, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Newark, NJ 07103, USA.


The 3' untranslated regions (3' UTRs) of mRNAs contain cis-acting elements for posttranscriptional regulation of gene expression. Here, we report that mouse genes tend to express mRNAs with longer 3' UTRs as embryonic development progresses. This global regulation is controlled by alternative polyadenylation and coordinates with initiation of organogenesis and aspects of embryonic development, including morphogenesis, differentiation, and proliferation. Using myogenesis of C2C12 myoblast cells as a model, we recapitulated this process in vitro and found that 3' UTR lengthening is likely caused by weakening of mRNA polyadenylation activity. Because alternative 3' UTR sequences are typically longer and have higher AU content than constitutive ones, our results suggest that lengthening of 3' UTR can significantly augment posttranscriptional control of gene expression during embryonic development, such as microRNA-mediated regulation.

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