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Open Access Research article

A multispecies comparison of the metazoan 3'-processing downstream elements and the CstF-64 RNA recognition motif

Jesse Salisbury12, Keith W Hutchison13 and Joel H Graber12*

Author Affiliations

1 Functional Genomics Program, The University of Maine, Orono, Maine 04469, USA

2 The Jackson Laboratory, 600 Main Street, Bar Harbor, Maine 04609, USA

3 Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Molecular Biology, The University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469, USA

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BMC Genomics 2006, 7:55  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-7-55

Published: 16 March 2006



The Cleavage Stimulation Factor (CstF) is a required protein complex for eukaryotic mRNA 3'-processing. CstF interacts with 3'-processing downstream elements (DSEs) through its 64-kDa subunit, CstF-64; however, the exact nature of this interaction has remained unclear. We used EST-to-genome alignments to identify and extract large sets of putative 3'-processing sites for mRNA from ten metazoan species, including Homo sapiens, Canis familiaris, Rattus norvegicus, Mus musculus, Gallus gallus, Danio rerio, Takifugu rubripes, Drosophila melanogaster, Anopheles gambiae, and Caenorhabditis elegans. In order to further delineate the details of the mRNA-protein interaction, we obtained and multiply aligned CstF-64 protein sequences from the same species.


We characterized the sequence content and specific positioning of putative DSEs across the range of organisms studied. Our analysis characterized the downstream element (DSE) as two distinct parts – a proximal UG-rich element and a distal U-rich element. We find that while the U-rich element is largely conserved in all of the organisms studied, the UG-rich element is not. Multiple alignment of the CstF-64 RNA recognition motif revealed that, while it is highly conserved throughout metazoans, we can identify amino acid changes that correlate with observed variation in the sequence content and positioning of the DSEs.


Our analysis confirms the early reports of separate U- and UG-rich DSEs. The correlated variations in protein sequence and mRNA binding sequences provide novel insights into the interactions between the precursor mRNA and the 3'-processing machinery.