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Molecular Regulation of Alternative Polyadenylation (APA) within the Drosophila Nervous System

Baier, Raul Vallejos, Picao-Osorio, Joao, Alonso, Claudio R.
Journal of Molecular Biology 2017
3' untranslated regions, Drosophila, RNA-binding proteins, central nervous system, embryogenesis, genes, mammals, microRNA, models, neurodevelopment, tissues
Alternative polyadenylation (APA) is a widespread gene regulatory mechanism that generates mRNAs with different 3′-ends, allowing them to interact with different sets of RNA regulators such as microRNAs and RNA-binding proteins. Recent studies have shown that during development, neural tissues produce mRNAs with particularly long 3′UTRs, suggesting that such extensions might be important for neural development and function. Despite this, the mechanisms underlying neural APA are not well understood. Here, we investigate this problem within the Drosophila nervous system, focusing on the roles played by general cleavage and polyadenylation factors (CPA factors). In particular, we examine that the model that changes in CPA factor concentration may affect APA during development. For this, we first analyse the expression of the Drosophila orthologues of all mammalian CPA factors and note that their expression decreases during embryogenesis. In contrast to this global developmental decrease in CPA factor expression, we see that cleavage factor I (CFI) expression is actually elevated in the late embryonic central nervous system, suggesting that CFI might play a special role in neural tissues. To test this, we use the UAS/Gal4 system to deplete CFI proteins from neural tissue and observe that in this condition, multiple genes switch their APA patterns, demonstrating a role of CFI in APA control during Drosophila neural development. Furthermore, analysis of genes with 3′UTR extensions of different length leads us to suggest a novel relation between 3′UTR length and sensitivity to CPA factor expression. Our work thus contributes to the understanding of the mechanisms of APA control within the developing central nervous system.