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Trends Genet. 1999 Jan;15(1):24-8.

mRNA degradation. A tale of poly(A) and multiprotein machines.

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Laboratoire de Microbiologie et Génétique Moléculaíre, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Toulouse, France.


The Escherichia coli RNA degradosome is a multiprotein complex containing an endoribonuclease, polynucleotide phosphorylase and a DEAD-box RNA helicase. A related complex has been described in the spinach chloroplast. The exosome and the mtEXO complex have recently been described in yeast and it is likely that related complexes also exist in animal cells. This research suggests the widespread existence of sophisticated machines for the efficient degradation of messenger RNA. The DEAD-box helicase in the degradosome can unwind regions of RNA structure that interfere with 3'-5' degradation. The polyadenylation of RNA 3' ends is also known to promote degradation by creating a 'toehold' for the degradation machinery. Much remains to be learned about the regulation of mRNA stability. The complexity of the degradation process, both in the eubacteria and in the eukaryotes, suggests that many steps are possible points of control.

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