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Gene Expr. 2002;10(1-2):41-57.

La protein and its associated small nuclear and nucleolar precursor RNAs.

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Laboratory of Molecular Growth Regulation, National Institute of Child Health & Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-2753, USA.


After transcription by RNA polymerase (pol) III, nascent Pol III transcripts pass through RNA processing, modification, and transport machineries as part of their posttranscriptional maturation process. The first factor to interact with Pol III transcripts is La protein, which binds principally via its conserved N-terminal domain (NTD), to the UUU-OH motif that results from transcription termination. This review includes a sequence Logo of the most conserved region of La and its refined modeling as an RNA recognition motif (RRM). La protects RNAs from 3' exonucleolytic digestion and also contributes to their nuclear retention. The variety of modifications found on La-associated RNAs is reviewed in detail and considered in the contexts of how La may bind the termini of structured RNAs without interfering with recognition by modification enzymes, and its ability to chaperone RNAs through multiple parts of their maturation pathways. The CTD of human La recognizes the 5' end region of nascent RNA in a manner that is sensitive to serine 366 phosphorylation. Although the CTD can control pre-tRNA cleavage by RNase P, a rate-limiting step in tRNASerUGA maturation, the extent to which it acts in the maturation pathway(s) of other transcripts is unknown but considered here. Evidence that a fraction of La resides in the nucleolus together with recent findings that several Pol III transcripts pass through the nucleolus is also reviewed. An imminent goal is to understand how the bipartite RNA binding, intracellular trafficking, and signal transduction activities of La are integrated with the maturation pathways of the various RNAs with which it associates.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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