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Cell. 1996 Apr 19;85(2):237-45.

Three-dimensional structure and stability of the KH domain: molecular insights into the fragile X syndrome.

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European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Heidelberg, Federal Republic of Germany.


The KH module is a sequence motif found in a number of proteins that are known to be in close association with RNA. Experimental evidence suggests a direct involvement of KH in RNA binding. The human FMR1 protein, which has two KH domains, is associated with fragile X syndrome, the most common inherited cause of mental retardation. Here we present the three-dimensional solution structure of the KH module. The domain consists of a stable beta alpha alpha beta beta alpha fold. On the basis of our results, we suggest a potential surface for RNA binding centered on the loop between the first two helices. Substitution of a well-conserved hydrophobic residue located on the second helix destroys the KH fold; a mutation of this position in FMR1 leads to an aggravated fragile X phenotype.

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