Selective microRNA uridylation by Zcchc6 (TUT7) and Zcchc11 (TUT4)

James E. Thornton, Peng Du, Lili Jing, Ljiljana Sjekloca, Shuibin Lin, Elena Grossi, Piotr Sliz, Leonard I. Zon, Richard I. Gregory

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


Recent small RNA sequencing data has uncovered 3′ end modification of mature microRNAs (miRNAs). This non-templated nucleotide addition can impact miRNA gene regulatory networks through the control of miRNA stability or by interfering with the repression of target mRNAs. The miRNA modifying enzymes responsible for this regulation remain largely uncharacterized. Here we describe the ability for two related terminal uridyl transferases (TUTases), Zcchc6 (TUT7) and Zcchc11 (TUT4), to 3′ mono-uridylate a specific subset of miRNAs involved in cell differentiation and Homeobox (Hox) gene control. Zcchc6/11 selectively uridylates these miRNAs in vitro, and we biochemically define a bipartite sequence motif that is necessary and sufficient to confer Zcchc6/11 catalyzed uridylation. Depletion of these TUTases in cultured cells causes the selective loss of 3′ mono-uridylation of many of the same miRNAs. Upon TUTase-dependent loss of uridylation, we observe a concomitant increase in non-templated 3′ mono-adenylation. Furthermore, TUTase inhibition in Zebrafish embryos causes developmental defects and aberrant Hox expression. Our results uncover the molecular basis for selective miRNA mono-uridylation by Zcchc6/11, highlight the precise control of different 3′ miRNA modifications in cells and have implications for miRNA and Hox gene regulation during development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11777-11791
Number of pages15
JournalNucleic Acids Research
Issue number18
StatePublished - 13 Oct 2014
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Selective microRNA uridylation by Zcchc6 (TUT7) and Zcchc11 (TUT4)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this