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FEMS Microbiol Rev. 1999 Jun;23(3):277-95.

3'-End processing of pre-mRNA in eukaryotes.

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Institut für Biochemie, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Germany.


3'-Ends of almost all eukaryotic mRNAs are generated by endonucleolytic cleavage and addition of a poly(A) tail. In mammalian cells, the reaction depends on the sequence AAUAAA upstream of the cleavage site, a degenerate GU-rich sequence element downstream of the cleavage site and stimulatory sequences upstream of AAUAAA. Six factors have been identified that carry out the two reactions. With a single exception, they have been purified to homogeneity and cDNAs for 11 subunits have been cloned. Some of the cooperative RNA-protein and protein-protein interactions within the processing complex have been analyzed, but many details, including the identity of the endonuclease, remain unknown. Several examples of regulated polyadenylation are being analyzed at the molecular level. In the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, sequences directing cleavage and polyadenylation are more degenerate than in metazoans, and a downstream element has not been identified. The list of processing factors may be complete now with approximately a dozen polypeptides, but their functions in the reaction are largely unknown. 3'-Processing is known to be coupled to transcription. This connection is thought to involve interactions of processing factors with the mRNA cap as well as with RNA polymerase II.

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