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Genetics. 1998 Oct;150(2):723-33.

Evidence for 3' untranslated region-dependent autoregulation of the Drosophila gene encoding the neuronal nuclear RNA-binding protein ELAV.

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  • Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, Nebraska 68198-4525, USA. msamson@molbio.unmc.edu


The Drosophila locus embryonic lethal abnormal visual system (elav) encodes a nuclear RNA-binding protein essential for normal neuronal differentiation and maintenance of neurons. ELAV is thought to play its role by binding to RNAs produced by other genes necessary for neuronal differentiation and consequently to affect their metabolism by an as yet unknown mechanism. ELAV structural homologues have been identified in a wide range of organisms, including humans, indicating an important conserved role for the protein. Analysis of elav germline transformants presented here shows that one copy of elav minigenes lacking a complete 3' untranslated region (3' UTR) rescues null mutations at elav, but that two copies are lethal. Additional in vivo experiments demonstrate that elav expression is regulated through the 3' UTR of the gene and indicate that this level of regulation is dependent upon ELAV itself. Because ELAV is an RNA-binding protein, the simplest model to account for these findings is that ELAV binds to the 3' UTR of its own RNA to autoregulate its expression. I discuss the implications of these results for normal elav function.

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