[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Serine/arginine (SR) proteins, one of the major families of alternative-splicing regulators in Eukarya, have two types of RNA-recognition motifs (RRMs): a canonical RRM and a pseudo-RRM. Although pseudo-RRMs are crucial for activity of SR proteins, their mode of action was unknown. By solving the structure of the human SRSF1 pseudo-RRM bound to RNA, we discovered a very unusual and sequence-specific RNA-binding mode that is centered on one α-helix and does not involve the β-sheet surface, which typically mediates RNA binding by RRMs. Remarkably, this mode of binding is conserved in all pseudo-RRMs tested. Furthermore, the isolated pseudo-RRM is sufficient to regulate splicing of about half of the SRSF1 target genes tested, and the bound α-helix is a pivotal element for this function. Our results strongly suggest that SR proteins with a pseudo-RRM frequently regulate splicing by competing with, rather than recruiting, spliceosome components, using solely this unusual RRM.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 07/2013; · 9.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To characterize protein-RNA recognition at the molecular level, structural biology has turned out to be an indispensable approach. Detailed and direct insights into the mechanism of RNA binding and specificity have emerged from protein-RNA structures, especially from the most abundant RNA recognition motif (RRM). Although this protein domain has a very conserved α-β fold, it can recognize a large number of different RNA sequences and shapes and can be involved in a multitude of biological processes. Here, we report on recent single and multiple RRM-RNA structures and point out those features that provide novel insights into the mechanism of RNA recognition by RRMs. We further outline inherent problems to both NMR spectroscopy and X-ray crystallography methods and review recent strategies that emphasize the need to use both methodologies for more rapid and accurate structure determinations.
Current Opinion in Structural Biology 12/2012; · 8.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: SRSF2 (SC35) is a key player in the regulation of alternative splicing events and binds degenerated RNA sequences with similar affinity in nanomolar range. We have determined the solution structure of the SRSF2 RRM bound to the 5'-UCCAGU-3' and 5'-UGGAGU-3' RNA, both identified as SRSF2 binding sites in the HIV-1 tat exon 2. RNA recognition is achieved through a novel sandwich-like structure with both termini forming a positively charged cavity to accommodate the four central nucleotides. To bind both RNA sequences equally well, SRSF2 forms a nearly identical network of intermolecular interactions by simply flipping the bases of the two consecutive C or G nucleotides into either anti or syn conformation. We validate this unusual mode of RNA recognition functionally by in-vitro and in-vivo splicing assays and propose a 5'-SSNG-3' (S=C/G) high-affinity binding consensus sequence for SRSF2. In conclusion, in addition to describe for the first time the RNA recognition mode of SRSF2, we provide the precise consensus sequence to identify new putative binding sites for this splicing factor.
The EMBO Journal 01/2012; 31(1):162-74. · 9.82 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Alternative splicing plays an important role in generating proteome diversity. The polypyrimidine tract-binding protein (PTB) is a key alternative splicing factor involved in exon repression. It has been proposed that PTB acts by looping out exons flanked by pyrimidine tracts. We present fluorescence, NMR, and in vivo splicing data in support of a role of PTB in inducing RNA loops. We show that the RNA recognition motifs (RRMs) 3 and 4 of PTB can bind two distant pyrimidine tracts and bring their 5' and 3' ends in close proximity, thus looping the RNA. Efficient looping requires an intervening sequence of 15 nucleotides or longer between the pyrimidine tracts. RRM3 and RRM4 bind the 5' and the 3' pyrimidine tracts, respectively, in a specific directionality and work synergistically for efficient splicing repression in vivo.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 02/2010; 107(9):4105-10. · 9.74 Impact Factor