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Molecular and Cellular Biology





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The decay of several yeast mRNAs occurs by a mechanism in which deadenylation precedes decapping and subsequent 5'-to-3' exonucleolytic decay. In order to identify gene products required for this process of mRNA turnover, we screened a library of temperature-sensitive strains for mutants with altered mRNA degradation. We identified seven mutations in four genes that inhibited mRNA turnover. Two mutations were alleles of the XRN1 5'-to-3' exoribonuclease known to degrade mRNAs following decapping. One mutation defined a new gene, termed DCP1, which in subsequent work was demonstrated to encode a decapping enzyme or a necessary component of a decapping complex. The other mutations defined two additional genes, termed MRT1 and MRT3 (for mRNA turnover). Mutations in the MRT1 and MRT3 genes slow the rate of deadenylation-dependent decapping, show transcript-specific effects on mRNA decay rates, and do not affect the rapid turnover of an mRNA containing an early nonsense codon, which is degraded by a deadenylation-independent decapping mechanism. Importantly, cell extracts from mrt1 and mrt3 strains contain normal levels of the decapping activity required for mRNA decay. These observations suggest that the products of the MRT1 and MRT3 genes function to modulate the rates of decapping that occur following deadenylation.

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