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Cheng, Jun; Maier, Kerstin C.; Avsec, Ziga; Rus, Petra; Gagneur, Julien (2017): Cis-regulatory elements explain most of the mRNA stability variation across genes in yeast. In: Rna, Vol. 23, No. 11: pp. 1648-1659
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The stability of mRNA is one of the major determinants of gene expression. Although a wealth of sequence elements regulating mRNA stability has been described, their quantitative contributions to half-life are unknown. Here, we built a quantitative model for Saccharomyces cerevisiae based on functional mRNA sequence features that explains 59% of the half-life variation between genes and predicts half-life at a median relative error of 30%. The model revealed a new destabilizing 3' UTR motif, ATATTC, which we functionally validated. Codon usage proves to be the major determinant of mRNA stability. Nonetheless, single-nucleotide variations have the largest effect when occurring on 3' UTR motifs or upstream AUGs. Analyzing mRNA half-life data of 34 knockout strains showed that the effect of codon usage not only requires functional decapping and deadenylation, but also the 5'-to-3' exonuclease Xrn1, the nonsense-mediated decay genes, but not no-go decay. Altogether, this study quantitatively delineates the contributions of mRNA sequence features on stability in yeast, reveals their functional dependencies on degradation pathways, and allows accurate prediction of half-life from mRNA sequence.