During gene expression, RNA export factors are mainly known for driving nucleo-cytoplasmic transport. While early studies suggested that the exon junction complex (EJC) provides a binding platform for them, subsequent work proposed that they are only recruited by the cap binding complex to the 5' end of RNAs, as part of TREX. Using iCLIP, we show that the export receptor Nxf1 and two TREX subunits, Alyref and Chtop, are recruited to the whole mRNA co-transcriptionally via splicing but before 3' end processing. Consequently, Alyref alters splicing decisions and Chtop regulates alternative polyadenylation. Alyref is recruited to the 5' end of RNAs by CBC, and our data reveal subsequent binding to RNAs near EJCs. We demonstrate that eIF4A3 stimulates Alyref deposition not only on spliced RNAs close to EJC sites but also on single-exon transcripts. Our study reveals mechanistic insights into the co-transcriptional recruitment of mRNA export factors and how this shapes the human transcriptome.
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EJC, TREX, alternative polyadenylation, co-transcriptional splicing, nucleo-cytoplasmic transport