Cytoplasmic RNA: a case of the tail wagging the dog.
The addition of poly(A) tails to eukaryotic nuclear mRNAs promotes their stability, export to the cytoplasm and translation. Subsequently, the balance between exonucleolytic deadenylation and selective re-establishment of translation-competent poly(A) tails by cytoplasmic poly(A) polymerases is essential for the appropriate regulation of gene expression from oocytes to neurons. In recent years, surprising roles for cytoplasmic poly(A) polymerase-related enzymes that add uridylyl, rather than adenylyl, residues to RNA 3' ends have also emerged. These terminal uridylyl transferases promote the turnover of certain mRNAs but also modify microRNAs, their precursors and other small RNAs to modulate their stability or biological functions.