Almost all of eukaryotic mRNAs are subjected to polyadenylation during mRNA processing. Recent discoveries showed that many of these mRNAs contain more than one polyadenylation sites in their 3' untranslated regions (UTR) and that alternative polyadenylation (APA) is prevalent among these genes. Many biological processes such as differentiation, proliferation, and tumorigenesis have been correlated to global APA events in the 3' UTR of mRNAs, suggesting that these APA events are tightly regulated and may play important physiological roles. In this review, recent discoveries in the physiological roles of APA events, as well as the known and proposed mechanisms are summarized. Perspective for future directions is also discussed.
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- 3' UTR
- 3'-end processing
- Alternative polyadenylation
- Post-transcriptional gene regulation