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Nucleic Acids Res. 1994 Jan 25;22(2):238-46.

AU-A, an RNA-binding activity distinct from hnRNP A1, is selective for AUUUA repeats and shuttles between the nucleus and the cytoplasm.

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Department of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology, University of Chicago, IL 60637.


The 3'-untranslated regions of many labile transcripts contain AU-rich sequences that serve as cis determinants of mRNA stability and translational efficiency. Using a photocrosslinking technique, our laboratory has previously defined three cytoplasmic RNA-binding activities specific for the AUUUA multimers found in the 3'-untranslated regions of lymphokine mRNAs. One of these activities, AU-A, has an apparent molecular mass of 34 kDa, is constitutively expressed in both primary T cells and the Jurkat T cell leukemia line, and binds to a variety of U-rich RNA sequences. Previous studies had shown that AU-A is more prevalent in the nucleus than the cytoplasm, raising the possibility that AU-A is really a nuclear RNA-binding activity that is found in cytoplasmic extracts because of nuclear leakage during cell fractionation. We now show that AU-A shuttles between the cytoplasm and the nucleus. Our results indicate that AU-A is a candidate protein component of ribonucleoprotein complexes that participate in nucleocytoplasmic transport of mRNA and cytoplasmic mRNA metabolism. The properties of AU-A activity are similar to those of heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein A1 (hnRNP A1). However, using monoclonal antibodies to hnRNP A1 and protease digestion patterns, we show that AU-A activity and hnRNP A1 protein are distinct. These studies have also allowed us to define a fourth RNA-binding activity of apparent molecular mass 41 kDa with specificity for AUUUA multimers. This activity is restricted to the nucleus and contains the hnRNP C protein.

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