Alternative polyadenylation of mRNA precursors

Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2017 Jan;18(1):18-30. doi: 10.1038/nrm.2016.116. Epub 2016 Sep 28.


Alternative polyadenylation (APA) is an RNA-processing mechanism that generates distinct 3' termini on mRNAs and other RNA polymerase II transcripts. It is widespread across all eukaryotic species and is recognized as a major mechanism of gene regulation. APA exhibits tissue specificity and is important for cell proliferation and differentiation. In this Review, we discuss the roles of APA in diverse cellular processes, including mRNA metabolism, protein diversification and protein localization, and more generally in gene regulation. We also discuss the molecular mechanisms underlying APA, such as variation in the concentration of core processing factors and RNA-binding proteins, as well as transcription-based regulation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • 3' Untranslated Regions*
  • Active Transport, Cell Nucleus
  • Exons
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Polyadenylation*
  • RNA Precursors / genetics
  • RNA Precursors / metabolism*
  • RNA Stability
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Ribonucleoprotein, U1 Small Nuclear / metabolism


  • 3' Untranslated Regions
  • RNA Precursors
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • Ribonucleoprotein, U1 Small Nuclear