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Regulation of mRNA stability through a pentobarbital-responsive element
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Pentobarbital, a general anesthetic and non-genotoxic carcinogen, can induce gene expression by activating transcription. In the Drosophila glutathione S-transferase D21 (gstD21) gene, pentobarbital's regulatory influence extends to the level of mRNA turnover. Transcribed from an intronless gene, gstD21 mRNA is intrinsically very labile. But exposure to pentobarbital renders it stabilized beyond what can be attributed to transcriptional activation. We aim here to identify cis-acting element(s) of gstD21 mRNA as contributors to the molecule's pentobarbital-mediated stabilization. In the context of hsp70 5′UTR and the 3′UTR of act5C, gstD21 mRNA, minus its native UTRs, is stable. Maintaining the same context of heterologous UTRs, we can reconstitute using the full-length gstD21 sequence the inherent instability of gstD21 mRNA and its stabilization by pentobarbital. Transgenic flies that express these chimeric gstD21 mRNA exhibit decay intermediates lacking 3′UTR, which are not stabilized by PB treatment. The 3′UTR sequence, when inserted downstream from a reporter transcript, stabilizes it 1.6-fold under PB treatment. The analysis of the decay intermediates suggests a polysome-associated decay pattern. We propose a regulatory model that features a 59-nucleotide pentobarbital-responsive element (PBRE) in the 3′UTR of gstD21 mRNA.