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RNA. 2006 Apr;12(4):547-54. Epub 2006 Feb 16.

RNA-associated protein 55 (RAP55) localizes to mRNA processing bodies and stress granules.

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  • 1Massachusetts General Hospital-East; CNY 8302, 149 13th Street, Charlestown, Massachusetts 02129, USA.


The mRNA processing body (P-body) is a cellular structure that has an important role in mRNA degradation. P-bodies have also been implicated in RNAi-mediated post-transcriptional gene silencing. The objective of this study was to identify and characterize novel components of the mammalian P-body. Approximately 5% of patients with the autoimmune disease primary biliary cirrhosis have antibodies directed against this structure. Serum from one of these patients was used to identify a cDNA encoding RAP55, a 463-amino acid protein. RAP55 colocalized with previously identified P-body components DCP1a and Ge-1. RAP55 contains an N-terminal Sm-like domain and two C-terminal RGG-rich domains separated by an FDF motif. The two RGG domains and the FDF domain were necessary and sufficient to target the protein to P-bodies. A fragment of RAP55 consisting of the FDF and the second RGG domains did not localize to P-bodies, but was able to displace other P-body components from this structure. After cells were subjected to arsenite-induced stress, RAP55 was detected in TIA-containing stress granules. The second RGG domain was necessary and sufficient for stress granule localization. siRNA-mediated knock-down of RAP55 resulted in loss of P-bodies, suggesting that RAP55 acts prior to the 5'-decapping step in mRNA degradation. The results of this study show that RAP55 is a component of P-bodies in cells at rest and localizes in stress granules in arsenite-treated cells. RAP55 may serve to shuttle mRNAs between P-bodies and stress granules.

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