Alternative polyadenylation variants of the RNA binding protein, HuR: abundance, role of AU-rich elements and auto-Regulation

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The RNA-binding protein, HuR, is involved in the stabilization of AU-rich element-containing mRNAs with products that are involved in cell-cycle progression, cell differentiation and inflammation. We show that there are multiple polyadenylation variants of HuR mRNA that differ in their abundance, using both bioinformatics and experimental approaches. A polyadenylation variant with distal poly(A) signal is a rare transcript that harbors functional AU-rich elements (ARE) in the 3′UTR. A minimal 60-nt region, but not a mutant form, fused to reporter-3′UTR constructs was able to downregulate the reporter activity. The most predominant and alternatively polyadenylated mature transcript does not contain the ARE. HuR itself binds HuR mRNA, and upregulated the activity of reporter from constructs fused with ARE-isoform and the HuR ARE. Wild-type tristetraprolin (TTP), but not the zinc finger mutant TTP, competes for HuR binding and upregulation of HuR mRNA. The study shows that the HuR gene codes for several polyadenylation variants differentially regulated by AU-rich elements, and demonstrates an auto-regulatory role of HuR.

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