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Bioessays. 1997 Jun;19(6):527-9.

A hypothesis to explain why translation inhibitors stabilize mRNAs in mammalian cells: mRNA stability and mitosis.

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McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research, University of Wisconsin- Madison 53706, USA.


Protein synthesis inhibitors prolong the half-lives of most mRNAs at least fourfold in the somatic cells of higher eukaryotes and in yeast cells. Some mRNAs are stabilized because the inhibitors affect mRNA-specific regulatory factors; however, hundreds or thousands of other mRNAs are probably stabilized by a common mechanism. We propose that mRNA stabilization in cells treated with a translation inhibitor reflects a physiological process that occurs during each mitosis and is important for cell survival. Transcription and translation rates decline drastically during a 1-2 hour interval of mitosis. We hypothesize that translational repression during this interval somehow inactivates a critical component of the mRNA degradation machinery. As a result, mRNA half-lives are prolonged during the interval when transcription is repressed. If labile mRNAs were not stabilized during mitosis they, and perhaps also the labile proteins they encode, would be depleted as the cell entered G1 phase, with deleterious consequences. Stabilization during mitosis, or in response to translation inhibitors, thus preserves the capacity of the cell to synthesize essential proteins as it enters G1 or recovers from inhibitor treatment. mRNA stabilization might serve a similar purpose during starvation or any stress negatively affecting translation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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