Open Access Research article

The 3' untranslated region of human Cyclin-Dependent Kinase 5 Regulatory subunit 1 contains regulatory elements affecting transcript stability

Silvia Moncini1, Annamaria Bevilacqua2, Marco Venturin1, Claudia Fallini3, Antonia Ratti3, Angelo Nicolin2 and Paola Riva1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biology and Genetics, Medical Faculty, University of Milan, Via Viotti 3/5, 20133 Milan, Italy

2 Department of Pharmacology, Chemotherapy and Medical Toxicology, University of Milan, Via Vanvitelli 32, 20129 Milan, Italy

3 Department of Neuroscience, University of Milan, IRCCS Istituto Auxologico Italiano, Via Zucchi 18, 20095 Cusano, Milan, Italy

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BMC Molecular Biology 2007, 8:111  doi:10.1186/1471-2199-8-111

Published: 3 December 2007



CDK5R1 plays a central role in neuronal migration and differentiation during central nervous system development. CDK5R1 has been implicated in neurodegenerative disorders and proposed as a candidate gene for mental retardation. The remarkable size of CDK5R1 3'-untranslated region (3'-UTR) suggests a role in post-transcriptional regulation of CDK5R1 expression.


The bioinformatic study shows a high conservation degree in mammals and predicts several AU-Rich Elements (AREs). The insertion of CDK5R1 3'-UTR into luciferase 3'-UTR causes a decreased luciferase activity in four transfected cell lines. We identified 3'-UTR subregions which tend to reduce the reporter gene expression, sometimes in a cell line-dependent manner. In most cases the quantitative analysis of luciferase mRNA suggests that CDK5R1 3'-UTR affects mRNA stability. A region, leading to a very strong mRNA destabilization, showed a significantly low half-life, indicating an accelerated mRNA degradation. The 3' end of the transcript, containing a class I ARE, specifically displays a stabilizing effect in neuroblastoma cell lines. We also observed the interaction of the stabilizing neuronal RNA-binding proteins ELAV with the CDK5R1 transcript in SH-SY5Y cells and identified three 3'-UTR sub-regions showing affinity for ELAV proteins.


Our findings evince the presence of both destabilizing and stabilizing regulatory elements in CDK5R1 3'-UTR and support the hypothesis that CDK5R1 gene expression is post-transcriptionally controlled in neurons by ELAV-mediated mechanisms. This is the first evidence of the involvement of 3'-UTR in the modulation of CDK5R1 expression. The fine tuning of CDK5R1 expression by 3'-UTR may have a role in central nervous system development and functioning, with potential implications in neurodegenerative and cognitive disorders.