Inhibiting expression of specific genes in mammalian cells with 5' end-mutated U1 small nuclear RNAs targeted to terminal exons of pre-mRNA
Fortes P, Cuevas Y, Guan F, Liu P, Pentlicky S, Jung SP, Martínez-Chantar ML, Prieto J, Rowe D, Gunderson SI.
Department of Medicine, University of Navarra, Irunlarrea 1, Pamplona 31008, Spain
Reducing or eliminating expression of a given gene is likely to require multiple methods to ensure coverage of all of the genes in a given mammalian cell.
We and others [Furth, P. A., Choe, W. T., Rex, J. H., Byrne, J. C., and Baker, C. C. (1994) Mol. Cell. Biol. 14, 5278-5289] have previously shown that U1 small nuclear (sn) RNA, both natural or with 5' end mutations, can specifically inhibit reporter gene expression in mammalian cells. This inhibition occurs when the U1 snRNA 5' end base pairs near the polyadenylation signal of the reporter gene's pre-mRNA. This base pairing inhibits poly(A) tail addition, a key, nearly universal step in mRNA biosynthesis, resulting in degradation of the mRNA.
Here we demonstrate that expression of endogenous mammalian genes can be efficiently inhibited by transiently or stably expressed 5' end-mutated U1 snRNA. Also, we determine the inhibitory mechanism and establish a set of rules to use this technique and to improve the efficiency of inhibition. Two U1 snRNAs base paired to a single pre-mRNA act synergistically, resulting in up to 700-fold inhibition of the expression of specific reporter genes and 25-fold inhibition of endogenous genes. Surprisingly, distance from the U1 snRNA binding site to the poly(A) signal is not critical for inhibition, instead the U1 snRNA must be targeted to the terminal exon of the pre-mRNA.
This could reflect a disruption by the 5' end-mutated U1 snRNA of the definition of the terminal exon as described by the exon definition model.
CITA DEL ARTÍCULO Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Jul 8;100(14):8264-9