The human TUT1 nucleotidyl transferase as a global regulator of microRNA abundance

PLoS One. 2013 Jul 18;8(7):e69630. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0069630. Print 2013.


Post-transcriptional modifications of miRNAs with 3' non-templated nucleotide additions (NTA) are a common phenomenon, and for a handful of miRNAs the additions have been demonstrated to modulate miRNA stability. However, it is unknown for the vast majority of miRNAs whether nucleotide additions are associated with changes in miRNA expression levels. We previously showed that miRNA 3' additions are regulated by multiple nucleotidyl transferase enzymes. Here we examine the changes in abundance of miRNAs that exhibit altered 3' NTA following the suppression of a panel of nucleotidyl transferases in cancer cell lines. Among the miRNAs examined, those with increased 3' additions showed a significant decrease in abundance. More specifically, miRNAs that gained a 3' uridine were associated with the greatest decrease in expression, consistent with a model in which 3' uridylation influences miRNA stability. We also observed that suppression of one nucleotidyl transferase, TUT1, resulted in a global decrease in miRNA levels of approximately 40% as measured by qRT-PCR-based miRNA profiling. The mechanism of this global miRNA suppression appears to be indirect, as it occurred irrespective of changes in 3' nucleotide addition. Also, expression of miRNA primary transcripts did not decrease following TUT1 knockdown, indicating that the mechanism is post-transcriptional. In conclusion, our results suggest that TUT1 affects miRNAs through both a direct effect on 3' nucleotide additions to specific miRNAs and a separate, indirect effect on miRNA abundance more globally.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Blotting, Western
  • Gene Expression Regulation / genetics*
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • HCT116 Cells
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism*
  • Nucleotidyltransferases / genetics*
  • Nucleotidyltransferases / metabolism
  • RNA 3' End Processing / genetics*
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • MicroRNAs
  • Nucleotidyltransferases
  • TUT1 protein, human