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Publication Title

Nucleic Acids Research


The RNA-recognition motif (RRM) is a common and evolutionarily conserved RNA-binding module. Crystallographic and solution structural studies have shown that RRMs adopt a compact α/β structure, in which four antiparallel β-strands form the major RNA—binding surface. Conserved aromatic residues in the RRM are located on the surface of the β-sheet and are important for RNA binding. To further our understanding of the structural basis of RRM—nucleic acid interaction, we carried out a high resolution analysis of UP1, the N-terminal, two-RRM domain of heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein A1 (hnRNP A1), whose structure was previously solved at 1.75–1.9 Å resolution. The two RRMs of hnRNP A1 are closely related but have distinct functions in regulating alternative pre-mRNA splice site selection. Our present 1.1 Å resolution crystal structure reveals that two conserved solvent-exposed phenylalanines in the first RRM have alternative side chain conformations. These conformations are spatially correlated, as the individual amino acids cannot adopt each of the observed conformations independently. These phenylalanines are critical for nucleic acid binding and the observed alternative side chain conformations may serve as a mechanism for regulating nucleic acid binding by RRM-containing proteins.

Original Citation

Jacqueline Vitali et al., "Correlated alternative side chain conformations in the RNA-recognition motif of heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein A1," Nucleic Acids Res. 30 (7), 1531-1538 (2002).