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Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2008 Oct;18(5):516-23. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2008.09.018. Epub 2008 Oct 27.

Ribonucleoprotein complexes in neurologic diseases.

Author information

  • MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK. jule@mrc-lmb.cam.ac.uk


Ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complexes regulate the tissue-specific RNA processing and transport that increases the coding capacity of our genome and the ability to respond quickly and precisely to the diverse set of signals. This review focuses on three proteins that are part of RNP complexes in most cells of our body: TAR DNA-binding protein (TDP-43), the survival motor neuron protein (SMN), and fragile-X mental retardation protein (FMRP). In particular, the review asks the question why these ubiquitous proteins are primarily associated with defects in specific regions of the central nervous system? To understand this question, it is important to understand the role of genetic and cellular environment in causing the defect in the protein, as well as how the defective protein leads to misregulation of specific target RNAs. Two approaches for comprehensive analysis of defective RNA-protein interactions are presented. The first approach defines the RNA code or the collection of proteins that bind to a certain cis-acting RNA site in order to lead to a predictable outcome. The second approach defines the RNA map or the summary of positions on target RNAs where binding of a particular RNA-binding protein leads to a predictable outcome. As we learn more about the RNA codes and maps that guide the action of the dynamic RNP world in our brain, possibilities for new treatments of neurologic diseases are bound to emerge.

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