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RNA. 2004 Sep;10(9):1449-58. Epub 2004 Jul 23.

Specificity of the STAR/GSG domain protein Qk1: implications for the regulation of myelination.

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Department of Molecular Biology, The Scripps Research Institute, Mail Stop MB-33, 10550 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


Inadequate formation and maintenance of myelin is the basis for several neurodegenerative disorders, including leukodystrophy and multiple sclerosis. In mice, oligodendrocyte differentiation and subsequent formation of myelin requires the Quaking gene. Mutation of this gene leads to embryonic lethality or to a trembling phenotype characteristic of dysmyelination. Quaking encodes Qk1, a member of the highly conserved STAR/GSG family of RNA-binding proteins that function as master developmental regulators in higher eukaryotes. Qk1 has been implicated in the regulation of alternative splicing, stability, and translation control of mRNAs that code for myelin structural components in glial cells. We have used quantitative gel mobility shift and fluorescence polarization assays to define the nucleotide sequence specificity of the Qk1 STAR/GSG domain, and to probe the interaction between Qk1 and the 3'-untranslated region (UTR) of myelin basic protein (MBP) mRNA. The results show that Qk1 recognizes a hexanucleotide consensus element that is similar although not identical to the specificity determinant recognized by the Caenorhabditis elegans STAR/GSG protein GLD-1. Several consensus sites are present in the 3'-UTR of MBP mRNA. The highest affinity site is located within the RNA localization region, suggesting a possible role for Qk1 in restricting MBP mRNA to the myelin compartment.

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