Author(s): Heo I, Joo C, Kim YK, Ha M, Yoon MJ,
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Abstract As key regulators in cellular functions, microRNAs (miRNAs) themselves need to be tightly controlled. Lin28, a pluripotency factor, was reported to downregulate let-7 miRNA by inducing uridylation of let-7 precursor (pre-let-7). But the enzyme responsible for the uridylation remained unknown. Here we identify a noncanonical poly (A) polymerase, TUTase4 (TUT4), as the uridylyl transferase for pre-let-7. Lin28 recruits TUT4 to pre-let-7 by recognizing a tetra-nucleotide sequence motif (GGAG) in the terminal loop. TUT4 in turn adds an oligouridine tail to the pre-let-7, which blocks Dicer processing. Other miRNAs with the same sequence motif (miR-107, -143, and -200c) are regulated through the same mechanism. Knockdown of TUT4 and Lin28 reduces the level of stem cell markers, suggesting that they are required for stem cell maintenance. This study uncovers the role of TUT4 and Lin28 as specific suppressors of miRNA biogenesis, which has implications for stem cell research and cancer biology.
This article was published in Cell
and referenced in Human Genetics & Embryology