Post-transcriptional modification

Post-transcriptional modification

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Post-transcriptional modification is a process in cell biology
Cell biology
Cell biology is a scientific discipline that studies cells – their physiological properties, their structure, the organelles they contain, interactions with their environment, their life cycle, division and death. This is done both on a microscopic and molecular level...

 by which, in eukaryotic cells, primary transcript
Primary transcript
A primary transcript is an RNA molecule that has not yet undergone any modification after its synthesis. For example, a precursor messenger RNA is a primary transcript that becomes a messenger RNA after processing, and a primary microRNA precursor becomes a microRNA after processing....

 RNA is converted into mature RNA
RNA
Ribonucleic acid , or RNA, is one of the three major macromolecules that are essential for all known forms of life....

. A notable example is the conversion of precursor messenger RNA into mature
Mature messenger RNA
Mature messenger RNA, often abbreviated as mature mRNA is a eukaryotic RNA transcript that has been spliced and processed and is ready for translation in the course of protein synthesis...

 messenger RNA
Messenger RNA
Messenger RNA is a molecule of RNA encoding a chemical "blueprint" for a protein product. mRNA is transcribed from a DNA template, and carries coding information to the sites of protein synthesis: the ribosomes. Here, the nucleic acid polymer is translated into a polymer of amino acids: a protein...

 (mRNA), which includes splicing
Splicing (genetics)
In molecular biology and genetics, splicing is a modification of an RNA after transcription, in which introns are removed and exons are joined. This is needed for the typical eukaryotic messenger RNA before it can be used to produce a correct protein through translation...

 and occurs prior to protein synthesis. This process is vital for the correct translation
Translation
Translation is the communication of the meaning of a source-language text by means of an equivalent target-language text. Whereas interpreting undoubtedly antedates writing, translation began only after the appearance of written literature; there exist partial translations of the Sumerian Epic of...

 of the genome
Genome
In modern molecular biology and genetics, the genome is the entirety of an organism's hereditary information. It is encoded either in DNA or, for many types of virus, in RNA. The genome includes both the genes and the non-coding sequences of the DNA/RNA....

s of eukaryotes as the human primary RNA transcript that is produced as a result of transcription contains both exons, which are coding sections of the primary RNA transcript and introns, which are the non coding sections of the primary RNA transcript.

mRNA processing


The pre-mRNA molecule undergoes three main modifications. These modifications are 5' cap
5' cap
The 5' cap is a specially altered nucleotide on the 5' end of precursor messenger RNA and some other primary RNA transcripts as found in eukaryotes. The process of 5' capping is vital to creating mature messenger RNA, which is then able to undergo translation...

ping, 3' polyadenylation
Polyadenylation
Polyadenylation is the addition of a poly tail to an RNA molecule. The poly tail consists of multiple adenosine monophosphates; in other words, it is a stretch of RNA that has only adenine bases. In eukaryotes, polyadenylation is part of the process that produces mature messenger RNA for translation...

, and RNA splicing
RNA splicing
In molecular biology and genetics, splicing is a modification of an RNA after transcription, in which introns are removed and exons are joined. This is needed for the typical eukaryotic messenger RNA before it can be used to produce a correct protein through translation...

, which occur in the cell nucleus
Cell nucleus
In cell biology, the nucleus is a membrane-enclosed organelle found in eukaryotic cells. It contains most of the cell's genetic material, organized as multiple long linear DNA molecules in complex with a large variety of proteins, such as histones, to form chromosomes. The genes within these...

 before the RNA is translated.

Capping


Capping of the pre-mRNA involves the addition of 7-methylguanosine (m7G) to the 5' end. To achieve this, the terminal 5' phosphate requires removal, which is done with the aid of a phosphatase
Phosphatase
A phosphatase is an enzyme that removes a phosphate group from its substrate by hydrolysing phosphoric acid monoesters into a phosphate ion and a molecule with a free hydroxyl group . This action is directly opposite to that of phosphorylases and kinases, which attach phosphate groups to their...

 enzyme
. The enzyme guanosyl transferase then catalyses the reaction, which produces the diphosphate 5' end. The diphosphate 5' prime end then attacks the gamma phosphorus atom of a GTP
Guanosine triphosphate
Guanosine-5'-triphosphate is a purine nucleoside triphosphate. It can act as a substrate for the synthesis of RNA during the transcription process...

 molecule in order to add the guanine
Guanine
Guanine is one of the four main nucleobases found in the nucleic acids DNA and RNA, the others being adenine, cytosine, and thymine . In DNA, guanine is paired with cytosine. With the formula C5H5N5O, guanine is a derivative of purine, consisting of a fused pyrimidine-imidazole ring system with...

residue in a 5'5' triphosphate link. The enzyme (guanine-N7-)-methyltransferase ("cap MTase") transfers a methyl group from S-adenosyl methionine
S-Adenosyl methionine
S-Adenosyl methionine is a common cosubstrate involved in methyl group transfers. SAM was first discovered in Italy by G. L. Cantoni in 1952. It is made from adenosine triphosphate and methionine by methionine adenosyltransferase . Transmethylation, transsulfuration, and aminopropylation are the...

 to the guanine ring. This type of cap, with just the (m7G) in position is called a cap 0 structure. The ribose
Ribose
Ribose is an organic compound with the formula C5H10O5; specifically, a monosaccharide with linear form H––4–H, which has all the hydroxyl groups on the same side in the Fischer projection....

 of the adjacent nucleotide
Nucleotide
Nucleotides are molecules that, when joined together, make up the structural units of RNA and DNA. In addition, nucleotides participate in cellular signaling , and are incorporated into important cofactors of enzymatic reactions...

 may also be methylated to give a cap 1. Methylation of nucleotides downstream of the RNA molecule produce cap 2, cap 3 structures and so on. In these cases the methyl groups are added to the 2' OH groups of the ribose sugar.
The cap protects the 5' end of the primary RNA transcript from attack by ribonuclease
Ribonuclease
Ribonuclease is a type of nuclease that catalyzes the degradation of RNA into smaller components. Ribonucleases can be divided into endoribonucleases and exoribonucleases, and comprise several sub-classes within the EC 2.7 and 3.1 classes of enzymes.-Function:All organisms studied contain...

s that have specificity to the 3'5' phosphodiester bond
Phosphodiester bond
A phosphodiester bond is a group of strong covalent bonds between a phosphate group and two 5-carbon ring carbohydrates over two ester bonds. Phosphodiester bonds are central to all known life, as they make up the backbone of each helical strand of DNA...

s.

Cleavage and Polyadenylation


The pre-mRNA processing at the 3' end of the RNA molecule involves cleavage of its 3' end and then the addition of about 200 adenine
Adenine
Adenine is a nucleobase with a variety of roles in biochemistry including cellular respiration, in the form of both the energy-rich adenosine triphosphate and the cofactors nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide and flavin adenine dinucleotide , and protein synthesis, as a chemical component of DNA...

 residues to form a poly(A) tail. The cleavage and adenylation reactions occur if a polyadenylation signal sequence
Polyadenylation
Polyadenylation is the addition of a poly tail to an RNA molecule. The poly tail consists of multiple adenosine monophosphates; in other words, it is a stretch of RNA that has only adenine bases. In eukaryotes, polyadenylation is part of the process that produces mature messenger RNA for translation...

 (5'- AAUAAA-3') is located near the 3' end of the pre-mRNA molecule, which is followed by another sequence, which is usually (5'-CA-3'). The second signal is the site of cleavage. A GU-rich sequence is also usually present further downstream on the pre-mRNA molecule. After the synthesis of the sequence elements, two multisubunit protein
Protein
Proteins are biochemical compounds consisting of one or more polypeptides typically folded into a globular or fibrous form, facilitating a biological function. A polypeptide is a single linear polymer chain of amino acids bonded together by peptide bonds between the carboxyl and amino groups of...

s called cleavage and polyadenylation specificity factor
Cleavage and polyadenylation specificity factor
Cleavage and polyadenylation specificity factor is involved in the cleavage of the 3' signaling region from a newly synthesized pre-messenger RNA molecule in the process of gene transcription...

 (CPSF) and cleavage stimulation factor
Cleavage stimulation factor
Cleavage stimulatory factor or cleavage stimulation factor is a heterotrimeric protein of about 200 kilodaltons that is involved in the cleavage of the 3' signaling region from a newly synthesized pre-messenger RNA molecule...

 (CStF) are transferred from RNA Polymerase II
RNA polymerase II
RNA polymerase II is an enzyme found in eukaryotic cells. It catalyzes the transcription of DNA to synthesize precursors of mRNA and most snRNA and microRNA. A 550 kDa complex of 12 subunits, RNAP II is the most studied type of RNA polymerase...

 to the RNA molecule. The two factors bind to the sequence elements. A protein complex forms that contains additional cleavage factors and the enzyme Polyadenylate Polymerase (PAP). This complex cleaves the RNA between the polyadenylation sequence and the GU-rich sequence at the cleavage site marked by the (5'-CA-3') sequences. Poly(A) polymerase then adds about 200 adenine units to the new 3' end of the RNA molecule using ATP
Adenosine triphosphate
Adenosine-5'-triphosphate is a multifunctional nucleoside triphosphate used in cells as a coenzyme. It is often called the "molecular unit of currency" of intracellular energy transfer. ATP transports chemical energy within cells for metabolism...

 as a precursor. As the poly(A) tails is synthesised, it binds multiple copies of poly(A) binding protein, which protects the 3'end from ribonuclease digestion.


Splicing


RNA splicing is the process by which intron
Intron
An intron is any nucleotide sequence within a gene that is removed by RNA splicing to generate the final mature RNA product of a gene. The term intron refers to both the DNA sequence within a gene, and the corresponding sequence in RNA transcripts. Sequences that are joined together in the final...

s, regions of RNA that do not code for protein, are removed from the pre-mRNA and the remaining exon
Exon
An exon is a nucleic acid sequence that is represented in the mature form of an RNA molecule either after portions of a precursor RNA have been removed by cis-splicing or when two or more precursor RNA molecules have been ligated by trans-splicing. The mature RNA molecule can be a messenger RNA...

s connected to re-form a single continuous molecule. Although most RNA splicing occurs after the complete synthesis and end-capping of the pre-mRNA, transcripts with many exons can be spliced co-transcriptionally. The splicing reaction is catalyzed by a large protein complex called the spliceosome
Spliceosome
A spliceosome is a complex of snRNA and protein subunits that removes introns from a transcribed pre-mRNA segment. This process is generally referred to as splicing.-Composition:...

 assembled from proteins and small nuclear RNA
Small nuclear RNA
Small nuclear ribonucleic acid is a class of small RNA molecules that are found within the nucleus of eukaryotic cells. They are transcribed by RNA polymerase II or RNA polymerase III and are involved in a variety of important processes such as RNA splicing , regulation of transcription factors ...

 molecules that recognize splice sites in the pre-mRNA sequence. Many pre-mRNAs, including those encoding antibodies
Antibody
An antibody, also known as an immunoglobulin, is a large Y-shaped protein used by the immune system to identify and neutralize foreign objects such as bacteria and viruses. The antibody recognizes a unique part of the foreign target, termed an antigen...

, can be spliced in multiple ways to produce different mature mRNAs that encode different protein sequences
Primary structure
The primary structure of peptides and proteins refers to the linear sequence of its amino acid structural units. The term "primary structure" was first coined by Linderstrøm-Lang in 1951...

. This process is known as alternative splicing
Alternative splicing
Alternative splicing is a process by which the exons of the RNA produced by transcription of a gene are reconnected in multiple ways during RNA splicing...

, and allows production of a large variety of proteins from a limited amount of DNA.

See also

  • messenger RNA
    Messenger RNA
    Messenger RNA is a molecule of RNA encoding a chemical "blueprint" for a protein product. mRNA is transcribed from a DNA template, and carries coding information to the sites of protein synthesis: the ribosomes. Here, the nucleic acid polymer is translated into a polymer of amino acids: a protein...

  • translation
    Translation (genetics)
    In molecular biology and genetics, translation is the third stage of protein biosynthesis . In translation, messenger RNA produced by transcription is decoded by the ribosome to produce a specific amino acid chain, or polypeptide, that will later fold into an active protein...

  • RNA editing
    RNA editing
    The term RNA editing describes those molecular processes in which the information content in an RNA molecule is altered through a chemical change in the base makeup. To date, such changes have been observed in tRNA, rRNA, mRNA and microRNA molecules of eukaryotes but not prokaryotes...

  • RNA-Seq
    RNA-Seq
    RNA-seq, also called "Whole Transcriptome Shotgun Sequencing" and dubbed "a revolutionary tool for transcriptomics", refers to the use of high-throughput sequencing technologies to sequence cDNA in order to get information about a sample's RNA content, a technique that is quickly becoming...