RNA processing is critical for proper spatial and temporal control of gene expression. The ubiquitous nuclear polyadenosine RNA binding protein, PABPN1, post-transcriptionally regulates multiple steps of gene expression. Mutations in the PABPN1 gene expanding an N-terminal alanine tract in the PABPN1 protein from 10 alanines to 11-18 alanines cause the muscle-specific disease oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy (OPMD), which affects eyelid, pharynx, and proximal limb muscles. Previous work revealed that the Pabpn1 transcript is unstable, contributing to low steady-state Pabpn1 mRNA and protein levels in vivo, specifically in skeletal muscle, with even lower levels in muscles affected in OPMD. Thus, low levels of PABPN1 protein could predispose specific tissues to pathology in OPMD. However, no studies have defined the mechanisms that regulate Pabpn1 expression. Here, we define multiple cis-regulatory elements and a trans-acting factor, HuR, which regulate Pabpn1 expression specifically in mature muscle in vitro and in vivo. We exploit multiple models including C2C12 myotubes, primary muscle cells, and mice to determine that HuR decreases Pabpn1 expression. Overall, we have uncovered a mechanism in mature muscle that negatively regulates Pabpn1 expression in vitro and in vivo, which could provide insight to future studies investigating therapeutic strategies for OPMD treatment.
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