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Sci Rep. 2018 May 23;8(1):8061. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-26264-0.

Conserved RNA binding activity of a Yin-Yang 1 homologue in the ova of the purple sea urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus.

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Food and Bioproduct Sciences, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada.
Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada.
Food and Bioproduct Sciences, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada.
Biochemistry, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada.


Yin-Yang 1 (YY1) is a highly conserved transcription factor possessing RNA-binding activity. A putative YY1 homologue was previously identified in the developmental model organism Strongylocentrotus purpuratus (the purple sea urchin) by genomic sequencing. We identified a high degree of sequence similarity with YY1 homologues of vertebrate origin which shared 100% protein sequence identity over the DNA- and RNA-binding zinc-finger region with high similarity in the N-terminal transcriptional activation domain. SpYY1 demonstrated identical DNA- and RNA-binding characteristics between Xenopus laevis and S. purpuratus indicating that it maintains similar functional and biochemical properties across widely divergent deuterostome species. SpYY1 binds to the consensus YY1 DNA element, and also to U-rich RNA sequences. Although we detected SpYY1 RNA-binding activity in ova lysates and observed cytoplasmic localization, SpYY1 was not associated with maternal mRNA in ova. SpYY1 expressed in Xenopus oocytes was excluded from the nucleus and associated with maternally expressed cytoplasmic mRNA molecules. These data demonstrate the existence of an YY1 homologue in S. purpuratus with similar structural and biochemical features to those of the well-studied vertebrate YY1; however, the data reveal major differences in the biological role of YY1 in the regulation of maternally expressed mRNA in the two species.

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