Widespread mRNA 3′ UTR shortening through alternative polyadenylation 1 promotes tumor growth in vivo 2 . A prevailing hypothesis is that it induces proto-oncogene expression in cis through escaping microRNA-mediated repression. Here we report a surprising enrichment of 3′UTR shortening among transcripts that are predicted to act as competing-endogenous RNAs (ceRNAs) for tumor-suppressor genes. Our model-based analysis of the trans effect of 3′ UTR shortening (MAT3UTR) reveals a significant role in altering ceRNA expression. MAT3UTR predicts many trans-targets of 3′ UTR shortening, including PTEN, a crucial tumor-suppressor gene 3 involved in ceRNA crosstalk 4 with nine 3′UTR-shortening genes, including EPS15 and NFIA. Knockdown of NUDT21, a master 3′ UTR-shortening regulator 2 , represses tumor-suppressor genes such as PHF6 and LARP1 in trans in a miRNA-dependent manner. Together, the results of our analysis suggest a major role of 3′ UTR shortening in repressing tumor-suppressor genes in trans by disrupting ceRNA crosstalk, rather than inducing proto-oncogenes in cis.
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