RNA-binding protein-mediated post-transcriptional controls of gene expression: Integration of molecular mechanisms at the 3′ end of mRNAs?

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Abstract

Initially identified as an occasional and peculiar mode of gene regulation in eukaryotes, RNA-binding protein-mediated post-transcriptional control of gene expression has emerged, over the last two decades, as a major contributor in the control of gene expression. A large variety of RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) allows the recognition of very diverse messenger RNA sequences and participates in the regulation of basically all cellular processes. Nevertheless, the rapid outcome of post-transcriptional regulations on the level of gene expression has favored the expansion of this type of regulation in cellular processes prone to rapid and frequent modulations such as the control of the inflammatory response.

At the molecular level, the 3′untranslated region (3′UTR) of mRNA is a favored site of RBP recruitment. RBPs binding to these regions control gene expression through two major modes of regulation, namely mRNA decay and modulation of translational activity. Recent progresses suggest that these two mechanisms are often interdependent and might result one from the other. Therefore, different RBPs binding distinct RNA subsets could share similar modes of action at the molecular level.

RBPs are frequent targets of post-translational modifications, thereby disclosing numerous possibilities for pharmacological interventions. However, redundancies of the transduction pathways controlling these modifications have limited the perspectives to define RBPs as new therapeutic targets.

Through the analysis of several examples of RBPs binding to 3′Untranslated Region of mRNA, we present here recent progress and perspectives regarding this rapidly evolving field of molecular biology.

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