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Mol Cell Biol. 1996 Jul;16(7):3668-78.

A novel methyltransferase (Hmt1p) modifies poly(A)+-RNA-binding proteins.

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  • 1Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Phamacology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


RNA-binding proteins play many essential roles in the metabolism of nuclear pre-mRNA. As such, they demonstrate a myriad of dynamic behaviors and modifications. In particular, heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoproteins (hnRNPs) contain the bulk of methylated arginine residues in eukaryotic cells. We have identified the first eukaryotic hnRNP-specific methyltransferase via a genetic screen for proteins that interact with an abundant poly(A)+-RNA-binding protein termed Npl3p. We have previously shown that npl3-1 mutants are temperature sensitive for growth and defective for export of mRNA from the nucleus. New mutants in interacting genes were isolated by their failure to survive in the presence of the npl3-1 allele. Four alleles of the same gene were identified in this manner. Cloning of the cognate gene revealed an encoded protein with similarity to methyltransferases that was termed HMT1 for hnRNP methyltransferase. HMT1 is not required for normal cell viability except when NPL3 is also defective. The Hmt1 protein is located in the nucleus. We demonstrate that Npl3p is methylated by Hmt1p both in vivo and in vitro. These findings now allow further exploration of the function of this previously uncharacterized class of enzymes.

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