Neural-specific elongation of 3′ UTRs during Drosophila development

Valérie Hilgers, Michael W. Perry, David Hendrix, Alexander Stark, Michael Levine, Benjamin Haley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

111 Scopus citations


The 3′ termini of eukaryotic mRNAs influence transcript stability, translation efficiency, and subcellular localization. Here we report that a subset of developmental regulatory genes, enriched in critical RNA-processing factors, exhibits synchronous lengthening of their 3′ UTRs during embryogenesis. The resulting UTRs are up to 20-fold longer than those found on typical Drosophila mRNAs. The large mRNAs emerge shortly after the onset of zygotic transcription, with several of these genes acquiring additional, phased UTR extensions later in embryogenesis. We show that these extended 3′ UTR sequences are selectively expressed in neural tissues and contain putative recognition motifs for the translational repressor, Pumilio, which also exhibits the 3′ lengthening phenomenon documented in this study. These findings suggest a previously unknown mode of posttranscriptional regulation that may contribute to the complexity of neurogenesis or neural function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15864-15869
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number38
StatePublished - Oct 20 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


  • Alternative polyadenylation
  • Maternal-to-zygotic transition
  • Nervous system
  • Posttranscriptional process


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