Transcription Dynamics Regulate Poly(A) Tails and Expression of the RNA Degradation Machinery to Balance mRNA Levels

Boris Slobodin*, Anat Bahat, Urmila Sehrawat, Shirly Becker-Herman, Binyamin Zuckerman, Amanda N. Weiss, Ruiqi Han, Ran Elkon, Reuven Agami, Igor Ulitsky, Idit Shachar, Rivka Dikstein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Gene expression is regulated by the rates of synthesis and degradation of mRNAs, but how these processes are coordinated is poorly understood. Here, we show that reduced transcription dynamics of specific genes leads to enhanced m6A deposition, preferential activity of the CCR4-Not complex, shortened poly(A) tails, and reduced stability of the respective mRNAs. These effects are also exerted by internal ribosome entry site (IRES) elements, which we found to be transcriptional pause sites. However, when transcription dynamics, and subsequently poly(A) tails, are globally altered, cells buffer mRNA levels by adjusting the expression of mRNA degradation machinery. Stress-provoked global impediment of transcription elongation leads to a dramatic inhibition of the mRNA degradation machinery and massive mRNA stabilization. Accordingly, globally enhanced transcription, such as following B cell activation or glucose stimulation, has the opposite effects. This study uncovers two molecular pathways that maintain balanced gene expression in mammalian cells by linking transcription to mRNA stability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)434-444.e5
JournalMolecular Cell
Issue number3
StatePublished - 7 May 2020


  • CCR4-Not complex
  • IRES
  • RNA polymerase II
  • gene expression buffering
  • m6A methyltransferase complex
  • mA
  • mRNA buffering
  • mRNA degradation
  • poly(A) tails
  • transcription


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