Molecular Biology

The Tail End of mRNA Decay

Science  16 Feb 2001:
Vol. 291, Issue 5507, pp. 1159
DOI: 10.1126/science.291.5507.1159c

The amount of messenger RNA (mRNA) available for protein synthesis depends not only on how much mRNA is made but also on how rapidly it is degraded. In eukaryotes, mRNA degradation is initiated by deadenylation, a shortening of the poly(A) tail at the 3' end of the message. Given the fundamental role of deadenylation in the regulation of mRNA stability, there is much interest in characterizing the factors that catalyze and regulate this process.

Through a series of genetic and biochemical studies, Tucker et al. have identified two protein components of the major cytoplasmic deadenylase in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. These proteins, Ccr4 and Caf1, are required for normal mRNA deadenylation in vivo, copurify with a poly(A)-specific exonuclease activity, interact with other proteins involved in mRNA degradation, and are conserved in other eukaryotes. In an intriguing twist, Ccr4 and Caf1 have been shown by Liu et al. and other researchers to interact physically with transcription factors, raising the possibility that there is a direct functional link between mRNA synthesis (transcription) and decay. — PAK

Cell104, 377 (2001); J. Biol. Chem., in press.

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