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Biochem J. 2013 Jul 15;453(2):271-9. doi: 10.1042/BJ20130432.

Minimal functional domains of paralogues hnRNP L and hnRNP LL exhibit mechanistic differences in exonic splicing repression.

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Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6059, USA.


Understanding functional distinctions between related splicing regulatory proteins is critical to deciphering tissue-specific control of alternative splicing. The hnRNP (heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein) L and hnRNP LL (hnRNP L-like) proteins are paralogues that have overlapping, but distinct, expression patterns and functional consequences. These two proteins share high sequence similarity in their RRMs (RNA-recognition motifs), but diverge in regions outside of the RRMs. In the present study, we use an MS2-tethering assay to delineate the minimal domains of hnRNP L and hnRNP LL which are required for repressing exon inclusion. We demonstrate that for both proteins, regions outside the RRMs, the N-terminal region, and a linker sequence between RRMs 2 and 3, are necessary for exon repression, but are only sufficient for repression in the case of hnRNP LL. In addition, both proteins require at least one RRM for maximal repression. Notably, we demonstrate that the region encompassing RRMs 1 and 2 of hnRNP LL imparts a second silencing activity not observed for hnRNP L. This additional functional component of hnRNP LL is consistent with the fact that the full-length hnRNP LL has a greater silencing activity than hnRNP L. Thus the results of the present study provide important insight into the functional and mechanistic variations that can exist between two highly related hnRNP proteins.

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