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J Neurosci. 1996 Feb 1;16(3):1114-22.

The onconeural antigen Nova-1 is a neuron-specific RNA-binding protein, the activity of which is inhibited by paraneoplastic antibodies.

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  • 1Laboratory of Molecular Neuro-Oncology, Rockefeller University, New York, New York 10021, USA.


Nova-1, a protein expressed in tumors and neurons, is a target antigen in a human paraneoplastic motor disorder [paraneoplastic opsoclonus-myoclonus ataxia (POMA)]. We evaluated the relationship between the function of Nova-1 and its role as a disease antigen. We show that Nova-1 is a neuron-specific RNA-binding protein with sequence and functional similarities to FMR-1. Nova-1 mRNA is restricted to the subcortical nervous system, and the protein binds to RNA with high affinity. Nova-1 KH domains mediate this RNA binding, and point mutations within them abrogate binding. POMA disease antisera (6/6) recognize the third KH domain but not an inactive point mutant, and affinity-purified antibody blocks Nova-1 RNA binding. Thus, a cardinal feature of POMA is the production of antibodies that inhibit Nova-1-RNA interactions, suggesting such inhibition may cause the neurological disease.

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