Post-transcriptional regulation by 3' UTRs can be masked by regulatory elements in 5' UTRs


  • K. Theil
  • M. Herzog
  • N. Rajewsky


  • Cell Reports


  • Cell Rep 22 (12): 3217-3226


  • In mRNA sequences, 3' UTRs are thought to contain most elements that specifically regulate localization, turnover, and translation. Although high-throughput experiments indicate that many RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) also bind 5' UTRs, much less is known about specific post-transcriptional control exerted by 5' UTRs. GLD-1 is a conserved RBP and a translational repressor with essential roles in Caenorhabditis elegans germ cell development. Previously, we showed that GLD-1 binds highly conserved sites in both 3' and 5' UTRs. Here, by targeted single-copy insertion of transgenes, we systematically tested in vivo functionality of 5' and 3' UTR binding sites individually and in combination. Our data show that sites in 5' UTRs mediate specific and strong translational repression, independent of exact position. Intriguingly, we found that the functionality of 3' UTR sites can be masked by 5' UTR sites and vice versa. We conclude that it is important to study both UTRs simultaneously.