Transcription Impacts the Efficiency of mRNA Translation via Co-transcriptional N6-adenosine Methylation

Cell. 2017 Apr 6;169(2):326-337.e12. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2017.03.031.

Abstract

Transcription and translation are two main pillars of gene expression. Due to the different timings, spots of action, and mechanisms of regulation, these processes are mainly regarded as distinct and generally uncoupled, despite serving a common purpose. Here, we sought for a possible connection between transcription and translation. Employing an unbiased screen of multiple human promoters, we identified a positive effect of TATA box on translation and a general coupling between mRNA expression and translational efficiency. Using a CRISPR-Cas9-mediated approach, genome-wide analyses, and in vitro experiments, we show that the rate of transcription regulates the efficiency of translation. Furthermore, we demonstrate that m6A modification of mRNAs is co-transcriptional and depends upon the dynamics of the transcribing RNAPII. Suboptimal transcription rates lead to elevated m6A content, which may result in reduced translation. This study uncovers a general and widespread link between transcription and translation that is governed by epigenetic modification of mRNAs.

Keywords: N6-adenosine methylation; RNAPII; TATA; gene regulation; m(6)A; transcription; translation efficiency.

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Adenosine / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Humans
  • Methylation
  • Peptide Chain Initiation, Translational
  • Protein Biosynthesis*
  • RNA Polymerase II / metabolism
  • RNA Processing, Post-Transcriptional*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • TATA Box
  • Transcription, Genetic*

Substances

  • RNA, Messenger
  • N6-methyladenosine (m6A)
  • RNA Polymerase II
  • Adenosine