The poly(A) tail of mRNA has an important influence on the dynamics of gene expression. On one hand, it promotes enhanced mRNA stability to allow production of the protein, even after inactivation of transcription. On the other hand, shortening of the poly(A) tail (deadenylation) slows down translation of the mRNA, or prevents it entirely, by inducing mRNA decay. Thus deadenylation plays a crucial role in the post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression, deciding the fate of individual mRNAs. It acts both in basal mRNA turnover, as well as in temporally and spatially regulated translation and decay of specific mRNAs. In the present paper, we discuss mRNA deadenylation in eukaryotes, focusing on the main deadenylase, the Ccr4–Not complex, including its composition, regulation and functional roles.

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