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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

T-cell receptor sequences that elicit strong down-regulation of premature termination codon-bearing transcripts.

The nonsense-mediated decay (NMD) RNA surveillance pathway detects and degrades mRNAs containing premature termination codons (PTCs). T-cell receptor (TCR) and immunoglobulin transcripts, which commonly harbor PTCs as a result of programmed DNA rearrangement during normal development, are down-regulated much more than other known mammalian gene transcripts in response to nonsense codons. Here, we demonstrate that this is not because of promoter or cell type but instead is directed by regulatory sequences within the rearranging VDJ exon and immediately flanking intron sequences of a Vbeta8.1 TCR-beta gene. Insertion of these sequences into a heterologous gene elicited strong down-regulation (>30-fold) in response to PTCs, indicating that this region is sufficient to trigger robust down-regulation. The rearranging Vbeta5.1 exon and the flanking intron sequences from another member of the TCR-beta family also triggered strong down-regulation, suggesting that down-regulatory-promoting elements are a conserved feature of TCR genes. Importantly, we found that the Vbeta8.1 down-regulatory-promoting element was position dependent, such that it failed to function when positioned downstream of a PTC. To our knowledge, this is the first class of down-regulatory elements identified that act upstream of nonsense codons.[1]


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