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RNA. 1999 Mar;5(3):468-83.

The splicing factors 9G8 and SRp20 transactivate splicing through different and specific enhancers.

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  • 1Institut de Génétique et de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire, CNRS/INSERM/ULP, C.U. de Strasbourg, France.


The activity of the SR protein family of splicing factors in constitutive or alternative splicing requires direct interactions with the pre-mRNA substrate. Thus it is important to define the high affinity targets of the various SR species and to evaluate their ability to discriminate between defined RNA targets. We have analyzed the binding specificity of the 30-kDa SR protein 9G8, which contains a zinc knuckle in addition to the RNA binding domain (RBD). Using a SELEX approach, we demonstrate that 9G8 selects RNA sequences formed by GAC triplets, whereas a mutated zinc knuckle variant selects different RNA sequences, centered around a (A/U)C(A/U)(A/U)C motif, indicating that the zinc knuckle is involved in the RNA recognition specificity of 9G8. In contrast, SC35 selects sequences composed of pyrimidine or purine-rich motifs. Analyses of RNA-protein interactions with purified recombinant 30-kDa SR proteins or in nuclear extracts, by means of UV crosslinking and immunoprecipitation, demonstrate that 9G8, SC35, and ASF/SF2 recognize their specific RNA targets with high specificity. Interestingly, the RNA sequences selected by the mutated zinc knuckle 9G8 variant are efficiently recognized by SRp20, in agreement with the fact that the RBD of 9G8 and SRp20 are similar. Finally, we demonstrate the ability of 9G8 and of its zinc knuckle variant, or SRp20, to act as efficient splicing transactivators through their specific RNA targets. Our results provide the first evidence for cooperation between an RBD and a zinc knuckle in defining the specificity of an RNA binding domain.

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