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Nucleic Acids Res. 1997 Mar 1;25(5):965-73.

Xp54, the Xenopus homologue of human RNA helicase p54, is an integral component of stored mRNP particles in oocytes.

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School of Biological and Medical Sciences, Bute Buildings, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, Fife KY16 9TS, UK.


In investigating the composition of stored (maternal) mRNP particles in Xenopus oocytes, attention has focussed primarily on the phosphoproteins pp60/56, which are Y-box proteins involved in a general packaging of mRNA. We now identify a third, abundant, integral component of stored mRNP particles, Xp54, which belongs to the family of DEAD-box RNA helicases. Xp54 was first detected by its ability to photocrosslink ATP. Subsequent sequence analysis identifies Xp54 as a member of a helicase subfamily which includes: human p54, encoded at a chromosomal breakpoint in the B-cell lymphoma cell line, RC-K8; Drosophila ME31B, encoded by a maternally-expressed gene, and Saccharomyces pombe Ste13, cloned by complementation of the sterility mutant ste13. Expression studies reveal that the gene encoding Xp54 is transcribed maximally at early oogenesis: no transcripts are detected in adult tissues, other than ovary. Using a monospecific antibody raised against native Xp54, its presence in mRNP particles is confirmed by immunoblotting fractions bound to oligo(dT)-cellulose and separated by rate sedimentation and buoyant density. On isolating Xp54 from mRNP particles, it is shown to possess an ATP-dependent RNA helicase activity. Possible functions of Xp54 are discussed in relation to the assembly and utilization of mRNP particles.

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