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

Erythroid cell-specific determinants of alpha-globin mRNA stability.

Although globin mRNAs are considered prototypes of highly stable messages, the mechanisms responsible for their longevity remain largely undefined. As an initial step in identifying potential cis-acting elements or structures which contribute to their stability, we analyzed the defect in expression of a naturally occurring alpha 2-globin mutant, alpha Constant Spring (CS). The CS mutation is a single-base change in the translation termination codon (UAA-->CAA) that allows the ribosome to read through into the 3' nontranslated region (NTR). The presence of CS mRNA in transcriptionally active erythroid precursors and its absence (relative to normal alpha-globin mRNA) in the more differentiated transcriptionally silent erythrocytes suggest that this mutation disrupts some feature of the alpha-globin mRNA required for its stability. Using a transient transfection system, we demonstrate that in murine erythroleukemia cells the CS mRNA is unstable compared with the normal alpha 2-globin mRNA. The analyses of several other naturally occurring and site-directed mutant alpha-globin genes in murine erythroleukemia cells indicate that entry of a translating ribosome into the 3' NTR targets the message for accelerated degradation in erythroid cells. In contrast, both the CS and alpha 2-globin mRNAs are stable in several nonerythroid cell lines. These results suggest that translational readthrough disrupts a determinant associated with the alpha 2-globin 3' NTR which is required for mRNA stability in erythroid cells.[1]


  1. Erythroid cell-specific determinants of alpha-globin mRNA stability. Weiss, I.M., Liebhaber, S.A. Mol. Cell. Biol. (1994) [Pubmed]
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