ElrA binding to the 3'UTR of cyclin E1 mRNA requires polyadenylation elements.
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The early cell divisions of Xenopus laevis and other metazoan embryos occur in the presence of constitutively high levels of the cell cycle regulator cyclin E1. Upon completion of the 12th cell division, a time at which many maternal proteins are downregulated by deadenylation and destabilization of their encoding mRNAs, maternal cyclin E1 protein is downregulated while its mRNA is polyadenylated and stable. We report here that stable polyadenylation of cyclin E1 mRNA requires three cis-acting elements in the 3' untranslated region; the nuclear polyadenylation sequence, a contiguous cytoplasmic polyadenylation element and an upstream AU-rich element. ElrA, the Xenopus homolog of HuR and a member of the ELAV gene family binds the cyclin E1 3'UTR with high affinity. Deletion of these elements dramatically reduces the affinity of ElrA for the cyclin E1 3'UTR, abolishes polyadenylation and destabilizes the mRNA. Together, these findings provide compelling evidence that ElrA functions in polyadenylation and stabilization of cyclin E1 mRNA via binding these elements.