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Poly(A) code analyses reveal key determinants for tissue-specific mRNA alternative polyadenylation.


mRNA alternative polyadenylation (APA) is a critical mechanism for post-transcriptional gene regulation and is often regulated in a tissue- and/or developmental stage-specific manner. An ultimate goal for the APA field has been to be able to computationally predict APA profiles under different physiological or pathological conditions. As a first step toward this goal, we have assembled a poly(A) code for predicting tissue-specific poly(A) sites (PASs). Based on a compendium of over 600 features that have known or potential roles in PAS selection, we have generated and refined a machine-learning algorithm using multiple high-throughput sequencing-based data sets of tissue-specific and constitutive PASs. This code can predict tissue-specific PASs with >85% accuracy. Importantly, by analyzing the prediction performance based on different RNA features, we found that PAS context, including the distance between alternative PASs and the relative position of a PAS within the gene, is a key feature for determining the susceptibility of a PAS to tissue-specific regulation. Our poly(A) code provides a useful tool for not only predicting tissue-specific APA regulation, but also for studying its underlying molecular mechanisms.

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