A crucial feature of gene expression involves RNA processing to produce 3' ends through a process termed 3' end cleavage and polyadenylation (CPA). This ensures the nascent RNA molecule can exit the nucleus and be translated to ultimately give rise to a protein which can execute a function. Further, alternative polyadenylation (APA) can produce distinct transcript isoforms, profoundly expanding the complexity of the transcriptome. CPA is carried out by multi-component protein complexes interacting with multiple RNA motifs and is tightly coupled to transcription, other steps of RNA processing, and even epigenetic modifications. CPA and APA contribute to the maintenance of a multitude of diverse physiological processes. It is therefore not surprising that disruptions of CPA and APA can lead to devastating disorders. Here, we review potential CPA and APA mechanisms involving both loss and gain of function that can have tremendous impacts on health and disease. Ultimately we highlight the emerging diagnostic and therapeutic potential CPA and APA offer.
Keywords: 3′ end processing; alternative polyadenylation; biomarker; cancer; cardiovascular disorders; cleavage and polyadenylation; disease; neurodegenerative disorders; therapy.