Effect of RNA secondary structure on polyadenylation site selection.
Functional polyadenylation [poly(A)] sites consist of two sequence elements, the AAUAAA and G/U box signals, that closely flank the site of mRNA 3'-end formation. In agreement with previous results, random sequence insertions between the AAUAAA and G/U box signals were observed to inhibit poly(A) site function. However, sequence insertions of similar size that were predicted to form RNA stem-loop structures were found to have little effect on the efficiency of polyadenylation and instead induced a 3' shift in the site of polyadenylation that was equal to the length of the inserted stem-loop. The in vivo utilization of a poly(A) site bearing an internal RNA stem-loop structure was inhibited by mutations that destabilized the predicted stem but was restored by compensatory mutations. These results strongly support the hypothesis that the appropriate spacing of the AAUAAA and G/U box signals is critical for poly(A) site function. Sequence insertions that are able to form RNA secondary structures that maintain the correct spacing of these two RNA target sequences are well tolerated, whereas sequence insertions that disturb this spacing inhibit poly(A) site recognition. It is proposed that the effect of sequence insertions on poly(A) site function may be sufficiently predictable to allow the development of an assay for in vivo RNA secondary structure that uses poly(A) site selection as a readout.
Brown, PH; Tiley, LS; Cullen, BR
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