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EMBO J. 1992 Sep;11(9):3271-8.

Human beta-globin mRNAs that harbor a nonsense codon are degraded in murine erythroid tissues to intermediates lacking regions of exon I or exons I and II that have a cap-like structure at the 5' termini.

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Department of Human Genetics, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY 14263.


Previous studies have demonstrated that nonsense codons within beta zero-thalassemic or in vitro-mutagenized human beta-globin transgenes result in the production of mRNAs that are degraded abnormally rapidly in the cytoplasm of murine erythroid cells. As a consequence, three RNA degradative intermediates are formed that lack sequences from either exon I or exons I and II. We show here that the intermediates, like the full-length mRNA from which they derive and the endogenous murine beta maj-globin mRNA, bind to the anticap monoclonal antibody H-20 in a way that is competed by the cap analogue m7G and eliminated by prior exposure to tobacco acid pyrophosphatase. Furthermore, the intermediates, like the two full-length mRNAs, are resistant to a 5'----3' exonuclease activity isolated from HeLa cell nuclei that degrades uncapped but not capped ribopolymers. Based on these observations, the intermediates appear to possess a structure that is indistinguishable from the cap at the 5' end of mRNA, i.e. a methylated nucleoside that is linked to the RNA by a 5'-5' phosphodiester bond. Detection of the intermediates during murine development was concomitant with detection of full-length thalassemic mRNA. Intermediate production appears to be influenced by RNA structure as indicated by the products that derive from a beta zero-thalassemic beta-globin transgene harboring a structural alteration (a 4 bp deletion) that was larger than any of those previously studied.

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