Post-transcriptional gene regulatory mechanisms in eukaryotes: an overview


    Expression of a gene can be controlled at many levels, including transcription, mRNA splicing, mRNA stability, translation and post-translational events such as protein stability and modification. The majority of studies to date have focused on transcriptional control mechanisms, but the importance of post-transcriptional mechanisms in regulating gene expression in eukaryotes is becoming increasingly clear. In this short review, selected examples of post-transcriptional gene regulatory mechanisms operating in both lower and higher eukaryotes will be used to highlight the plethora of such mechanisms already identified. The underlying theme is that post-transcriptional gene regulation relies on specific RNA-protein interactions that either result in the targeted degradation of the mRNA or prevent access of the ribosome to the translation start codon. Such interactions can occur in the 5' or 3' untranslated regions of an mRNA or within the decoded portion of the molecule. The importance of these regulatory mechanisms in a range of biological systems is also illustrated.

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