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RNA. 2010 Nov;16(11):2058-67. doi: 10.1261/rna.2315010. Epub 2010 Sep 7.

Four KH domains of the C. elegans Bicaudal-C ortholog GLD-3 form a globular structural platform.

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  • 1Department of Structural Cell Biology, Max-Planck-Institute of Biochemistry, D-82152 Martinsried, Germany.


Caenorhabditis elegans GLD-3 is a five K homology (KH) domain-containing protein involved in the translational control of germline-specific mRNAs during embryogenesis. GLD-3 interacts with the cytoplasmic poly(A)-polymerase GLD-2. The two proteins cooperate to recognize target mRNAs and convert them into a polyadenylated, translationally active state. We report the 2.8-Å-resolution crystal structure of a proteolytically stable fragment encompassing the KH2, KH3, KH4, and KH5 domains of C. elegans GLD-3. The structure reveals that the four tandem KH domains are organized into a globular structural unit. The domains are involved in extensive side-by-side interactions, similar to those observed in previous structures of dimeric KH domains, as well as head-to-toe interactions. Small-angle X-ray scattering reconstructions show that the N-terminal KH domain (KH1) forms a thumb-like protrusion on the KH2-KH5 unit. Although KH domains are putative RNA-binding modules, the KH region of GLD-3 is unable in isolation to cross-link RNA. Instead, the KH1 domain mediates the direct interaction with the poly(A)-polymerase GLD-2, pointing to a function of the KH region as a protein-protein interaction platform.

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