Polyadenylation of pre-mRNAs in the nucleus involves a specific endonucleolytic cleavage, followed by the addition of approximately 200 adenylic acid residues. We have assayed HeLa nuclear extracts for the activity that catalyzes the poly(A) addition reaction. The authenticity of the in vitro assay was indicated by the observation that the poly(A) tract added in vitro is approximately 200 nucleotides in length. We have fractionated nuclear extracts in order to define components involved in specific poly(A) addition. No single fraction from DEAE-Sephacel chromatography of a HeLa nuclear extract possessed the specific poly(A) addition activity. However, if the various fractions were recombined, activity was restored, indicating the presence of multiple components. Further fractionation revealed the presence of at least two factors necessary for the poly(A) addition reaction. The reconstituted system retains the characteristics and specificity seen in the crude extract. Additional purification of one of the factors strongly suggests it to be a previously characterized poly(A) polymerase which, when assayed in the absence of the other factor, can add AMP to an RNA terminus but without specificity. Thus, the other component of the reaction may provide specificity to the process. In contrast to the 3' cleavage reaction, the poly(A) addition machinery does not possess an essential RNA component, as assayed by micrococcal nuclease digestion, nor do anti-Sm sera inhibit the reaction. Thus, the total process of formation of a polyadenylated mRNA 3' end is complex and requires the concerted action of distinct nuclear components.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Biology