Guanine-quadruplexes (G4) included in RNA molecules exert several functions in controlling gene expression at post-transcriptional level; however, the molecular mechanisms of G4-mediated regulation are still poorly understood. Here, we describe a regulatory circuitry operating in the early phases of murine muscle differentiation in which a long non-coding RNA (SMaRT) base pairs with a G4-containing mRNA (Mlx-γ) and represses its translation by counteracting the activity of the DHX36 RNA helicase. The time-restricted, specific effect of lnc-SMaRT on the translation of Mlx-γ isoform modulates the general subcellular localization of total MLX proteins, impacting on their transcriptional output and promoting proper myogenesis and mature myotube formation. Therefore, the circuitry made of lnc-SMaRT, Mlx-γ, and DHX36 not only plays an important role in the control of myogenesis but also unravels a molecular mechanism where G4 structures and G4 unwinding activities are regulated in living cells.
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