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Nucleic Acids Res. 2006 Jan 3;33(22):7138-50. Print 2005.

AU-rich elements and associated factors: are there unifying principles?

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UMR 6061 CNRS Génétique et Développement, IFR 140 Génétique Fonctionnelle Agronomie et Santé, Université de Rennes 1, Faculté de Médecine, CS 34317, 35043 Rennes cedex, France.


The control of mRNA stability is an important process that allows cells to not only limit, but also rapidly adjust, the expression of regulatory factors whose over expression may be detrimental to the host organism. Sequence elements rich in A and U nucleotides or AU-rich elements (AREs) have been known for many years to target mRNAs for rapid degradation. In this survey, after briefly summarizing the data on the sequence characteristics of AREs, we present an analysis of the known ARE-binding proteins (ARE-BP) with respect to their mRNA targets and the consequences of their binding to the mRNA. In this analysis, both the changes in mRNA stability and the lesser studied effects on translation are considered. This analysis highlights the multitude of mRNAs bound by one ARE-BP and conversely the large number of ARE-BP that associate with any particular ARE-containing mRNA. This situation is discussed with respect to functional redundancies or antagonisms. The potential relationship between mRNA stability and translation is also discussed. Finally, we present several hypotheses that could unify the published data and suggest avenues for future research.

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