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Poly(A) polymerase (PAP) plays an essential role in polyadenylation of mRNA precursors, and it has long been thought that mammalian cells contain only a single PAP gene. We describe here the unexpected existence of a human PAP, which we call neo-PAP, encoded by a previously uncharacterized gene. cDNA was isolated from a tumor-derived cDNA library encoding an 82.8-kDa protein bearing 71% overall similarity to human PAP. Strikingly, the organization of the two PAP genes is nearly identical, indicating that they arose from a common ancestor. Neo-PAP and PAP were indistinguishable in in vitro assays of both specific and nonspecific polyadenylation and also endonucleolytic cleavage. Neo-PAP produced by transfection was exclusively nuclear, as demonstrated by immunofluorescence microscopy. However, notable sequence divergence between the C-terminal domains of neo-PAP and PAP suggested that the two enzymes might be differentially regulated. While PAP is phosphorylated throughout the cell cycle and hyperphosphorylated during M phase, neo-PAP did not show evidence of phosphorylation on Western blot analysis, which was unexpected in the context of a conserved cyclin recognition motif and multiple potential cyclin-dependent kinase (cdk) phosphorylation sites. Intriguingly, Northern blot analysis demonstrated that each PAP displayed distinct mRNA splice variants, and both PAP mRNAs were significantly overexpressed in human cancer cells compared to expression in normal or virally transformed cells. Neo-PAP may therefore be an important RNA processing enzyme that is regulated by a mechanism distinct from that utilized by PAP.

Original publication




Journal article


Mol Cell Biol

Publication Date





5614 - 5623


Amino Acid Sequence, Base Sequence, Cell Line, Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic, Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic, Humans, Molecular Sequence Data, Neoplasms, Polynucleotide Adenylyltransferase, RNA Processing, Post-Transcriptional