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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Mar 2;101(9):2987-92. Epub 2004 Feb 23.

Identification of a target RNA motif for RNA-binding protein HuR.

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Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Biology, National Institute on Aging-Intramural Research Program, National Institutes of Health, Baltimore, MD 21224, USA.


HuR, a protein that binds to specific mRNA subsets, is increasingly recognized as a pivotal posttranscriptional regulator of gene expression. Here, HuR was immunoprecipitated under conditions that preserved HuR-RNA interactions, and HuR-bound target mRNAs were identified by cDNA array hybridization. Analysis of primary sequences and secondary structures shared among HuR targets led to the identification of a 17- to 20-base-long RNA motif rich in uracils. This HuR motif was found in almost all mRNAs previously reported to be HuR targets, was located preferentially within 3' untranslated regions of all unigene transcripts examined, and was conserved in >50% of human and mouse homologous genes. Importantly, the HuR motif allowed the successful prediction and subsequent validation of novel HuR targets from gene databases. This study describes an HuR target RNA motif and presents a general strategy for identifying target motifs for RNA-binding proteins.

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