The maternal mRNAs that drive meiotic progression in oocytes contain short poly(A) tails and it is only when these tails are elongated that translation takes place. Cytoplasmic polyadenylation requires two elements in the 3'-UTR (3'-untranslated region), the hexanucleotide AAUAAA and the CPE (cytoplasmic polyadenylation element), which also participates in the transport and localization, in a quiescent state, of its targets. However, not all CPE-containing mRNAs are activated at the same time during the cell cycle, and polyadenylation is temporally and spatially regulated during meiosis. We have recently deciphered a combinatorial code that can be used to qualitatively and quantitatively predict the translational behaviour of CPE-containing mRNAs. This code defines positive and negative feedback loops that generate waves of polyadenylation and deadenylation, creating a circuit of mRNA-specific translational regulation that drives meiotic progression.
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