Nature structural & molecular biology

mRNA-mRNA duplexes that autoelicit Staufen1-mediated mRNA decay.

PMID 24056942


We report a new mechanism by which human mRNAs cross-talk: an Alu element in the 3' untranslated region (3' UTR) of one mRNA can base-pair with a partially complementary Alu element in the 3' UTR of a different mRNA, thereby creating a Staufen1 (STAU1)-binding site (SBS). STAU1 binding to a 3'-UTR SBS was previously shown to trigger STAU1-mediated mRNA decay (SMD) by directly recruiting the ATP-dependent RNA helicase UPF1, which is also a key factor in the mechanistically related nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) pathway. In the case of a 3'-UTR SBS created by mRNA-mRNA base-pairing, we show that SMD targets both mRNAs in the duplex, provided that both mRNAs are translated. If only one mRNA is translated, then it alone is targeted for SMD. We demonstrate the functional importance of mRNA-mRNA-triggered SMD in cell migration and invasion.