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EMBO J. 1997 Apr 15;16(8):2130-9.

Identification of HuR as a protein implicated in AUUUA-mediated mRNA decay.

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Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.


Expression of many proto-oncogenes, cytokines and lymphokines is regulated by targeting their messenger RNAs for rapid degradation. Essential signals for this control are AU-rich elements (AREs) in the 3' untranslated region (UTR) of these messages. The ARE is loosely defined as the five-nucleotide sequence AUUUA embedded in a uracil-rich region. A transacting factor, presumably a protein, binds the ARE and initiates recognition by the destabilization machinery. Numerous candidate ARE-binding proteins have been proposed. We show that a 32 kDa protein in HeLa nuclear extracts characterized previously has RNA-binding specificity that correlates with the activity of an ARE in directing mRNA decay. Purification and subsequent analyses demonstrate that this 32 kDa protein is identical to a recently identified member of the Elav-like gene family (ELG) called HuR. The in vitro binding selectivity of HuR is indicative of an ARE sequence's ability to destabilize a mRNA in vivo, suggesting a critical role for HuR in the regulation of mRNA degradation.

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