Degradation of mRNA is one of the key processes that control the steady-state level of gene expression. However, the rate of mRNA decay for the majority of genes is not known. We successfully obtained the rate of mRNA decay for 19 977 non-redundant genes by microarray analysis of RNA samples obtained from mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells. Median estimated half-life was 7.1 h and only <100 genes, including Prdm1, Myc, Gadd45 g, Foxa2, Hes5 and Trib1, showed half-life less than 1 h. In general, mRNA species with short half-life were enriched among genes with regulatory functions (transcription factors), whereas mRNA species with long half-life were enriched among genes related to metabolism and structure (extracellular matrix, cytoskeleton). The stability of mRNAs correlated more significantly with the structural features of genes than the function of genes: mRNA stability showed the most significant positive correlation with the number of exon junctions per open reading frame length, and negative correlation with the presence of PUF-binding motifs and AU-rich elements in 3′-untranslated region (UTR) and CpG di-nucleotides in the 5′-UTR. The mRNA decay rates presented in this report are the largest data set for mammals and the first for ES cells.
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