Alternative polyadenylation (APA) is a process that changes the posttranscriptional regulation and translation potential of mRNAs via addition or deletion of 3′ untranslated region (3′ UTR) sequences. To identify posttranscriptional-regulatory events affected by APA in breast tumors, tumor datasets were analyzed for recurrent APA events. Motif mapping of the changed 3′ UTR regions found that APA-mediated removal of Pumilio regulatory elements (PRE) was unusually common. Breast tumor subtype-specific APA profiling identified triple-negative breast tumors as having the highest levels of APA. To determine the frequency of these events, an independent cohort of triple-negative breast tumors and normal breast tissue was analyzed for APA. APA-mediated shortening of NRAS and c-JUN was seen frequently, and this correlated with changes in the expression of downstream targets. mRNA stability and luciferase assays demonstrated APA-dependent alterations in RNA and protein levels of affected candidate genes. Examination of clinical parameters of these tumors found those with APA of NRAS and c-JUN to be smaller and less proliferative, but more invasive than non-APA tumors. RT-PCR profiling identified elevated levels of polyadenylation factor CSTF3 in tumors with APA. Overexpression of CSTF3 was common in triple-negative breast cancer cell lines, and elevated CSTF3 levels were sufficient to induce APA of NRAS and c-JUN. Our results support the hypothesis that PRE-containing mRNAs are disproportionately affected by APA, primarily due to high sequence similarity in the motifs utilized by polyadenylation machinery and the PUM complex.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research