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EMBO J. 1996 Dec 16;15(24):7137-46.

Polyadenylation accelerates degradation of chloroplast mRNA.

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Department of Plant Biology, University of California, Berkeley 94720, USA.


The expression of chloroplast genes is regulated by several mechanisms, one of which is the modulation of RNA stability. To understand how this regulatory step is controlled during chloroplast development, we have begun to define the mechanism of plastid mRNA degradation. We show here that the degradation petD mRNA involves endonucleolytic cleavage at specific sites upstream of the 3' stem-loop structure. The endonucleolytic petD cleavage products can be polyadenylated in vitro, and similar polyadenylated RNA products are detectable in vivo. PCR analysis of the psbA and psaA-psaB-rps14 operons revealed other polyadenylated endonucleolytic cleavage products, indicating that poly(A) addition appears to be an integral modification during chloroplast mRNA degradation. Polyadenylation promotes efficient degradation of the cleaved petD RNAs by a 3'-5' exoribonuclease. Furthermore, polyadenylation also plays an important role in the degradation of the petD mRNA 3' end. Although the 3' end stem-loop is usually resistant to nucleases, adenylation renders the secondary structure susceptible to the 3'-5' exoribonuclease. Analysis of 3' ends confirms that polyadenylation occurs in vivo, and reveals that the extent of adenylation increases during the degradation of plastid mRNA in the dark. Based on these results, we propose a novel mechanism for polyadenylation in the regulation of plastid mRNA degradation.

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