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Alternative polyadenylation and RNA-binding proteins

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2016-08-01
Our understanding of the extent of microRNA-based gene regulation has expanded in an impressive pace over the past decade. Now, we are beginning to better appreciate the role of 3'-UTR (untranslated region) cis-elements which harbor not only microRNA but also RNA-binding protein (RBP) binding sites that have significant effect on the stability and translational rate of mRNAs. To add further complexity, alternative polyadenylation (APA) emerges as a widespread mechanism to regulate gene expression by producing shorter or longer mRNA isoforms that differ in the length of their 3'-UTRs or even coding sequences. Resulting shorter mRNA isoforms generally lack cis-elements where trans-acting factors bind, and hence are differentially regulated compared with the longer isoforms. This review focuses on the RBPs involved in APA regulation and their action mechanisms on APA-generated isoforms. A better understanding of the complex interactions between APA and RBPs is promising for mechanistic and clinical implications including biomarker discovery and new therapeutic approaches.