Date of Graduation


Document Type

Dissertation (PhD)

Program Affiliation

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Ann-Bin Shyu, Ph. D.

Committee Member

Carmen W. Dessauer, Ph. D.

Committee Member

Ambro Van Hoof, Ph. D.

Committee Member

Jian Kuang, Ph. D.

Committee Member

Richard E. Lloyd, Ph. D.


Most newly synthesized messenger RNAs possess a 5’ cap and a 3’ poly(A) tail. The process of poly(A) tail shortening, also termed deadenylation, is important for post-transcriptional gene regulation, because deadenylation not only leads to mRNA translational inhibition but also is the first step of major mRNA degradation. Translationally inhibited mRNAs can be stored and/or degraded in dynamic cytoplasmic foci termed mRNA processing bodies, or P bodies, which are conserved in eukaryotes.

To shed new light on the mechanisms of P body formation and P body functions, I focused on the link between deadenylation factors and P bodies. I found that the two major deadenylation complexes, Pan3-Pan2 and Ccr4-Caf1, can both be enriched in P bodies. The deadenylase activity of the Ccr4-Caf1 complex is prerequisite for P body formation. Pan3, but not the deadenylase Pan2, is essential for P body formation. While the C-terminal domain of Pan3 is important for interaction with Pan2, Pan3 N-terminal domain is important for Pan3 to form cytoplasmic foci colocalizing with P bodies and to promote mRNA decay. Interestingly, Pan3 N-terminal domain may be phosphorylated to regulate Pan3 localization and functions. Aside from the functions of the two deadenylation complexes in P bodies, I also studied all reported human P body proteins as a whole using bioinformatics. This effort not only has generated a comprehensive picture of the functions of and interactions among human P body proteins, but also has predicted proteins that may regulate P body formation and/or functions.

In summary, my study has established a direct link between mRNA deadenylation and P body formation and has also led to new hypotheses to guide future research on how P body dynamics are controlled.


Deadenylation, mRNA processing body, Pan3, Pan2, Caf1



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