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      A coding-independent function of gene and pseudogene mRNAs regulates tumour biology

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          Abstract

          The canonical role of messenger RNA (mRNA) is to deliver protein-coding information to sites of protein synthesis. However, given that microRNAs bind to RNAs, we hypothesized that RNAs possess a biological role in cancer cells that relies upon their ability to compete for microRNA binding and is independent of their protein-coding function. As a paradigm for the protein-coding-independent role of RNAs, we describe the functional relationship between the mRNAs produced by the PTEN tumour suppressor gene and its pseudogene ( PTENP1) and the critical consequences of this interaction. We find that PTENP1 is biologically active as determined by its ability to regulate cellular levels of PTEN, and that it can exert a growth-suppressive role. We also show that PTENP1 locus is selectively lost in human cancer. We extend our analysis to other cancer-related genes that possess pseudogenes, such as oncogenic KRAS. Further, we demonstrate that the transcripts of protein coding genes such as PTEN are also biologically active. Together, these findings attribute a novel biological role to expressed pseudogenes, as they can regulate coding gene expression, and reveal a non-coding function for mRNAs.

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          Most cited references 33

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          Prediction of mammalian microRNA targets.

          MicroRNAs (miRNAs) can play important gene regulatory roles in nematodes, insects, and plants by basepairing to mRNAs to specify posttranscriptional repression of these messages. However, the mRNAs regulated by vertebrate miRNAs are all unknown. Here we predict more than 400 regulatory target genes for the conserved vertebrate miRNAs by identifying mRNAs with conserved pairing to the 5' region of the miRNA and evaluating the number and quality of these complementary sites. Rigorous tests using shuffled miRNA controls supported a majority of these predictions, with the fraction of false positives estimated at 31% for targets identified in human, mouse, and rat and 22% for targets identified in pufferfish as well as mammals. Eleven predicted targets (out of 15 tested) were supported experimentally using a HeLa cell reporter system. The predicted regulatory targets of mammalian miRNAs were enriched for genes involved in transcriptional regulation but also encompassed an unexpectedly broad range of other functions.
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            MicroRNAs to Nanog, Oct4 and Sox2 coding regions modulate embryonic stem cell differentiation.

            MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short RNAs that direct messenger RNA degradation or disrupt mRNA translation in a sequence-dependent manner. For more than a decade, attempts to study the interaction of miRNAs with their targets were confined to the 3' untranslated regions of mRNAs, fuelling an underlying assumption that these regions are the principal recipients of miRNA activity. Here we focus on the mouse Nanog, Oct4 (also known as Pou5f1) and Sox2 genes and demonstrate the existence of many naturally occurring miRNA targets in their amino acid coding sequence (CDS). Some of the mouse targets analysed do not contain the miRNA seed, whereas others span exon-exon junctions or are not conserved in the human and rhesus genomes. miR-134, miR-296 and miR-470, upregulated on retinoic-acid-induced differentiation of mouse embryonic stem cells, target the CDS of each transcription factor in various combinations, leading to transcriptional and morphological changes characteristic of differentiating mouse embryonic stem cells, and resulting in a new phenotype. Silent mutations at the predicted targets abolish miRNA activity, prevent the downregulation of the corresponding genes and delay the induced phenotype. Our findings demonstrate the abundance of CDS-located miRNA targets, some of which can be species-specific, and support an augmented model whereby animal miRNAs exercise their control on mRNAs through targets that can reside beyond the 3' untranslated region.
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              Pseudogene-derived small interfering RNAs regulate gene expression in mouse oocytes.

              Pseudogenes populate the mammalian genome as remnants of artefactual incorporation of coding messenger RNAs into transposon pathways. Here we show that a subset of pseudogenes generates endogenous small interfering RNAs (endo-siRNAs) in mouse oocytes. These endo-siRNAs are often processed from double-stranded RNAs formed by hybridization of spliced transcripts from protein-coding genes to antisense transcripts from homologous pseudogenes. An inverted repeat pseudogene can also generate abundant small RNAs directly. A second class of endo-siRNAs may enforce repression of mobile genetic elements, acting together with Piwi-interacting RNAs. Loss of Dicer, a protein integral to small RNA production, increases expression of endo-siRNA targets, demonstrating their regulatory activity. Our findings indicate a function for pseudogenes in regulating gene expression by means of the RNA interference pathway and may, in part, explain the evolutionary pressure to conserve argonaute-mediated catalysis in mammals.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                0410462
                6011
                Nature
                Nature
                Nature
                0028-0836
                1476-4687
                14 October 2011
                24 June 2010
                02 November 2011
                : 465
                : 7301
                : 1033-1038
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Cancer Genetics Program, Beth Israel Deaconess Cancer Center, Departments of Medicine and Pathology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02215
                [2 ]FAS Center for Systems Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, 02138, USA
                [3 ]Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program, Department of Surgery, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, 1275 York Avenue, New York, NY, 10021
                Author notes
                Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to P.P.P. ( ppandolf@ 123456bidmc.harvard.edu )
                [†]

                Present Address: Department of Dermatology, New York University Medical Center, New York, NY 10016, USA

                [*]

                These authors contributed equally to this study.

                Article
                nihpa235496
                10.1038/nature09144
                3206313
                20577206
                Funding
                Funded by: National Cancer Institute : NCI
                Award ID: R01 CA102142-07 || CA
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