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Mixed tailing by TENT4A and TENT4B shields mRNA from rapid deadenylation

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Science  17 Aug 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6403, pp. 701-704
DOI: 10.1126/science.aam5794

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A tale of not-so-pure tails

The poly(A) tail of mRNA has been thought to be a pure stretch of adenosine nucleotides with little informational content except for length. Lim et al. identified enzymes that can decorate poly(A) tails with non-A nucleotides. The noncanonical poly(A) polymerases, TENT4A and TENT4B, incorporate intermittent non-A residues (G, U, or C) with a preference for guanosine, which results in a heterogenous poly(A) tail. Deadenylases trim poly(A) tails to initiate mRNA degradation but stall at the non-A residues. In effect, the not-so-pure tail stabilizes mRNAs by slowing down deadenylation.

Science, this issue p. 701

Abstract

RNA tails play integral roles in the regulation of messenger RNA (mRNA) translation and decay. Guanylation of the poly(A) tail was discovered recently, yet the enzymology and function remain obscure. Here we identify TENT4A (PAPD7) and TENT4B (PAPD5) as the enzymes responsible for mRNA guanylation. Purified TENT4 proteins generate a mixed poly(A) tail with intermittent non-adenosine residues, the most common of which is guanosine. A single guanosine residue is sufficient to impede the deadenylase CCR4-NOT complex, which trims the tail and exposes guanosine at the 3′ end. Consistently, depletion of TENT4A and TENT4B leads to a decrease in mRNA half-life and abundance in cells. Thus, TENT4A and TENT4B produce a mixed tail that shields mRNA from rapid deadenylation. Our study unveils the role of mixed tailing and expands the complexity of posttranscriptional gene regulation.

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