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Modeling the binding specificity of the RNA-binding protein GLD-1 suggests a function of coding region-located sites in translational repression

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Publication date 2013
Author Brümmer Anneke, Kishore Shivendra, Subasic Deni, Hengartner Michael Otmar, Zǎvolan Mihaela,
Project Post-transcriptional regulation of germ cell apoptosis in C. elegans
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal RNA
Volume (Issue) 19(10)
Page(s) 1317 - 1326
Title of proceedings RNA
DOI 10.1261/rna.037531.112


To understand the function of the hundreds of RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) that are encoded in animal genomes it is important to identify their target RNAs. Although it is generally accepted that the binding specificity of an RBP is well described in terms of the nucleotide sequence of its binding sites, other factors such as the structural accessibility of binding sites or their clustering, to enable binding of RBP multimers, are also believed to play a role. Here we focus on GLD-1, a translational regulator of Caenorhabditis elegans, whose binding specificity and targets have been studied with a variety of methods such as CLIP (cross-linking and immunoprecipitation), RIP-Chip (microarray measurement of RNAs associated with an immunoprecipitated protein), profiling of polysome-associated mRNAs and biophysical determination of binding affinities of GLD-1 for short nucleotide sequences. We show that a simple biophysical model explains the binding of GLD-1 to mRNA targets to a large extent, and that taking into account the accessibility of putative target sites significantly improves the prediction of GLD-1 binding, particularly due to a more accurate prediction of binding in transcript coding regions. Relating GLD-1 binding to translational repression and stabilization of its target transcripts we find that binding sites along the entire transcripts contribute to functional responses, and that CDS-located sites contribute most to translational repression. Finally, biophysical measurements of GLD-1 affinity for a small number of oligonucleotides appear to allow an accurate reconstruction of the sequence specificity of the protein. This approach can be applied to uncover the specificity and function of other RBPs.