Kainov YA, Makeyev EV (2020) A transcriptome-wide antitermination mechanism sustaining identity of embryonic stem cells. Nat Commun 11: 361

Eukaryotic gene expression relies on extensive crosstalk between transcription and RNA processing. Changes in this composite regulation network may provide an important means for shaping cell type-specific transcriptomes. Here we show that the RNA-associated protein Srrt/Ars2 sustains embryonic stem cell (ESC) identity by preventing premature termination of numerous transcripts at cryptic cleavage/polyadenylation sites in first introns. Srrt interacts with the nuclear cap-binding complex and facilitates recruitment of the spliceosome component U1 snRNP to cognate intronic positions. At least in some cases, U1 recruited in this manner inhibits downstream cleavage/polyadenylation events through a splicing-independent mechanism called telescripting. We further provide evidence that the naturally high expression of Srrt in ESCs offsets deleterious effects of retrotransposable sequences accumulating in its targets. Our work identifies Srrt as a molecular guardian of the pluripotent cell state.

Pubmed: 31953406