2013 Volume 88 Issue 4 Pages 241-249
Cystathionine γ-synthase (CGS) catalyzes the first committed step of methionine (Met) biosynthesis in plants. Expression of the Arabidopsis thaliana CGS1 gene is negatively feedback-regulated in response to the direct Met metabolite S-adenosyl-L-methionine (AdoMet). This regulation occurs at the step of mRNA stability during translation and is coupled with AdoMet-induced CGS1-specific translation arrest. In general, mRNA decay is initiated by a shortening of the poly(A) tail. However, this process has not been studied in detail in cases where regulatory events, such as programmed translation arrest, are involved. Here, we report that the poly(A) tail of the full-length CGS1 mRNA showed an apparent increase from 50–80 nucleotides (nt) to 140–150 nt after the induction of CGS1 mRNA degradation. This finding was unexpected because mRNAs that are destined for degradation harbored longer poly(A) tail than mRNAs that were not targeted for degradation. The results suggest that poly(A) shortening is inhibited or delayed during AdoMet-induced translation arrest of CGS1 mRNA. We propose an explanation for this phenomenon that remains consistent with the recent model of actively translating mRNA. We also found that CGS1 mRNA degradation intermediates, which are 5'-truncated forms of CGS1 mRNA, had a short poly(A) tail of 10–30 nt. This suggests that poly(A) shortening occurs rapidly on the degradation intermediates. The present study highlights CGS1 mRNA degradation as a useful system to understand the dynamic features of poly(A) shortening.