We previously identified a conserved A + U-rich element (ARE) in the 3'-untranslated region of bcl-2 mRNA. We have also recently demonstrated that the bcl-2 ARE interacts with a number of ARE-binding proteins (AUBPs) whose pattern changes during apoptosis in association with bcl-2 mRNA half-life reduction. Here we show that the AUBP AUF1 binds in vitro to bcl-2 mRNA. The results obtained in a yeast RNA three-hybrid system have demonstrated that the 1-257-amino acid portion of p37 AUF1 (conserved in all isoforms), containing the two RNA recognition motifs, also binds to the bcl-2 ARE in vivo. UVC irradiation-induced apoptosis results in an increase of AUF1. Inhibition of apoptosis by a general caspase inhibitor reduces this increase by 2-3-fold. These results indicate involvement of AUF1 in the ARE/AUBP-mediated modulation of bcl-2 mRNA decay during apoptosis
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