ABSTRACT: CUGBP, Elav-like family member 1 (CELF1) is an RNA binding protein with important roles in the regulation of splicing, mRNA decay and translation. CELF1 contains three RNA recognition motifs (RRMs). We used gel retardation, gel filtration, isothermal titration calorimetry and NMR titration studies to investigate the recognition of RNA by the first two RRMs of CELF1. NMR shows that RRM1 is promiscuous in binding to both UGU and CUG repeat sequences with comparable chemical shift perturbations. In contrast, RRM2 shows greater selectivity for UGUU rather than CUG motifs. A construct (T187) containing both binding domains (RRM1 and RRM2) was systematically studied for interaction with tandem UGU RNA binding sites with different length linker sequences UGU(U)(x)UGU where x = 1-7. A single U spacer results in interactions only with RRM1, demonstrating both steric constraints in accommodating both RRMs simultaneously at adjacent sites, and also subtle differences in binding affinities between RRMs. However, high affinity co-operative binding (K(d) ~ 0.4 µM) is evident for RNA sequences with x = 2-4, but longer spacers (x ≥ 5) lead to a 10-fold reduction in affinity. Our analysis rationalizes the high affinity interaction of T187 with the 11mer GRE consensus regulatory sequence UGUUUGUUUGU and has significant consequences for the prediction of CELF1 binding sites.
Nucleic Acids Research 07/2011; 39(19):8638-50. · 8.03 Impact Factor