Structural analysis of MALAT1 long noncoding RNA in cells and in evolution

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Although not canonically polyadenylated, the long noncoding RNA MALAT1 (metastasis-associated lung adenocarcinoma transcript 1) is stabilized by a highly conserved 76-nt triple helix structure on its 3′′ end. The entire MALAT1 transcript is over 8000 nt long in humans. The strongest structural conservation signal in MALAT1 (as measured by covariation of base pairs) is in the triple helix structure. Primary sequence analysis of covariation alone does not reveal the degree of structural conservation of the entire full-length transcript, however. Furthermore, RNA structure is often context dependent; RNA binding proteins that are differentially expressed in different cell types may alter structure. We investigate here the in-cell and cell-free structures of the full-length human and green monkey (Chlorocebus sabaeus) MALAT1 transcripts in multiple tissue-derived cell lines using SHAPE chemical probing. Our data reveal levels of uniform structural conservation in different cell lines, in cells and cell-free, and even between species, despite significant differences in primary sequence. The uniformity of the structural conservation across the entire transcript suggests that, despite seeing covariation signals only in the triple helix junction of the lncRNA, the rest of the transcript's structure is remarkably conserved, at least in primates and across multiple cell types and conditions.




Monroy-Eklund, A., Taylor, C., Weidmann, C. A., Burch, C., & Laederach, A. (2023). Structural analysis of MALAT1 long noncoding RNA in cells and in evolution. RNA, 29(5), 691–704.

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