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Mol Endocrinol. 1995 Mar;9(3):375-87.

Regulated specific protein binding to a conserved region of the 3'-untranslated region of thyrotropin beta-subunit mRNA.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Thyroid hormone (T3) regulates the expression of rat TSH beta-subunit (TSH beta) mRNA, in part, at the posttranscriptional level, by reducing the half-life of TSH beta mRNA. The mechanism(s) mediating this alteration in mRNA stability are unknown, but previous work indicates that labile protein(s) are involved. The majority of cis-acting elements identified to date that have been implicated in the regulated destabilization of mRNAs have been located in the 3'-untranslated region (3'-UTR) of the mRNA. The 3'-UTR of rat, murine, and human TSH beta mRNA is highly conserved, and within this region is a 12-nucleotide consensus sequence, which is shared by the 3'-UTR of several other genes with unstable mRNAs. We reasoned that this homologous region could represent a binding motif for specific trans-acting RNA-binding protein(s), and that identification and characterization of such trans-acting factor(s) may provide critical insight into the mechanisms underlying T3-induced changes in TSH beta mRNA stability. Utilizing the RNA electrophoretic mobility shift assay and analysis of UV cross-linked RNA-protein complexes, a cytoplasmic trans-acting factor of approximately 80-85 kilodaltons was identified from rat pituitaries and several cell lines that binds in a sequence-specific manner to the 3'-UTR of rat TSH beta mRNA. Using competitive antisense oligonucleotides, the predominant binding site was mapped to the first 41 nucleotides of the 3'-UTR, which includes the consensus region. However, sequence upstream of the consensus was also shown to be important for binding. Using RNA electrophoretic mobility shift assay, two mRNAs containing sequence homology with the consensus region, c-erbA alpha-2 and a rat ferritin pseudogene, were shown to specifically compete with rat TSH beta mRNA for binding of this factor. Remarkably, the binding activity of this factor was regulated positively by T3 within 4 h, but only with rat pituitary extracts. These data suggest that in addition to binding rat TSH beta mRNA in a sequence-specific and T3-regulated manner, this novel trans-acting RNA-binding protein may also bind to other cytoplasmic mRNAs involved in diverse intracellular processes.

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