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RNA. 2011 May;17(5):944-56. doi: 10.1261/rna.2587411. Epub 2011 Mar 28.

The poly(rC)-binding protein alphaCP2 is a noncanonical factor in X. laevis cytoplasmic polyadenylation.

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Department of Genetics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.


Post-transcriptional control of mRNA stability and translation is central to multiple developmental pathways. This control can be linked to cytoplasmic polyadenylation in certain settings. In maturing Xenopus oocytes, specific mRNAs are targeted for polyadenylation via recruitment of the Cytoplasmic Polyadenylation Element (CPE) binding protein (CPEB) to CPE(s) within the 3' UTR. Cytoplasmic polyadenylation is also critical to early embryonic events, although corresponding determinants are less defined. Here, we demonstrate that the Xenopus ortholog of the poly(rC) binding protein αCP2 can recruit cytoplasmic poly(A) polymerase activity to mRNAs in Xenopus post-fertilization embryos, and that this recruitment relies on cis sequences recognized by αCP2. We find that the hα-globin 3' UTR, a validated mammalian αCP2 target, constitutes an effective target for cytoplasmic polyadenylation in Xenopus embryos, but not during Xenopus oocyte maturation. We further demonstrate that the cytoplasmic polyadenylation activity is dependent on the action of the C-rich αCP-binding site in conjunction with the adjacent AAUAAA. Consistent with its ability to target mRNA for poly(A) addition, we find that XαCP2 associates with core components of the Xenopus cytoplasmic polyadenylation complex, including the cytoplasmic poly(A) polymerase XGLD2. Furthermore, we observe that the C-rich αCP-binding site can robustly enhance the activity of a weak canonical oocyte maturation CPE in early embryos, possibly via a direct interaction between XαCP2 and CPEB1. These studies establish XαCP2 as a novel cytoplasmic polyadenylation trans factor, indicate that C-rich sequences can function as noncanonical cytoplasmic polyadenylation elements, and expand our understanding of the complexities underlying cytoplasmic polyadenylation in specific developmental settings.

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