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Structure. 2012 Jun 6;20(6):1007-18. doi: 10.1016/j.str.2012.03.011. Epub 2012 May 3.

Structural basis for polyadenosine-RNA binding by Nab2 Zn fingers and its function in mRNA nuclear export.

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  • 1Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge CB2 0QH, UK.


Polyadenylation regulation and efficient nuclear export of mature mRNPs both require the polyadenosine-RNA-binding protein, Nab2, which contains seven CCCH Zn fingers. We describe here the solution structure of fingers 5-7, which are necessary and sufficient for high-affinity polyadenosine-RNA binding, and identify key residues involved. These Zn fingers form a single structural unit. Structural coherence is lost in the RNA-binding compromised Nab2-C437S mutant, which also suppresses the rat8-2 allele of RNA helicase Dbp5. Structure-guided Nab2 variants indicate that dbp5(rat8-2) suppression is more closely linked to hyperadenylation and suppression of mutant alleles of the nuclear RNA export adaptor, Yra1, than to affinity for polyadenosine-RNA. These results indicate that, in addition to modulating polyA tail length, Nab2 has an unanticipated function associated with generating export-competent mRNPs, and that changes within fingers 5-7 lead to suboptimal assembly of mRNP export complexes that are more easily disassembled by Dbp5 upon reaching the cytoplasm.

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