RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) play a major role in many post-transcriptional processes, including mRNA stability, alternative splicing and translation. PCBP4, also called MCG10, is an RBP belonging to the poly(C)-binding protein family and a target of p53 tumor suppressor. Ectopic expression of PCBP4 induces cell-cycle arrest in G2 and apoptosis. To identify RNA targets regulated by PCBP4 and further decipher its function, we generated multiple cell lines in which PCBP4 is either inducibly over-expressed or knocked down. We found that PCBP4 expression decreases cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21 induction in response to DNA damage. We also provided evidence that PCBP4 regulates p21 expression independently of p53. In addition, we showed that a deficiency in PCBP4 enhances p21 induction upon DNA damage. To validate PCBP4 regulation of p21, we made PCBP4-deficient mice and showed that p21 expression is markedly increased in PCBP4-deficient primary mouse embryo fibroblasts compared to that in wild-type counterparts. Finally, we uncovered that PCBP4 binds to the 3′-UTR of p21 transcript in vitro and in vivo to regulate p21 mRNA stability. Taken together, we revealed that PCBP4 regulates both basal and stress-induced p21 expression through binding p21 3′-UTR and modulating p21 mRNA stability.
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