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Keywords:

  • RNA recognition motif;
  • splicing;
  • RNA export;
  • translation;
  • polyadenylation;
  • mRNA localization;
  • mRNA decay

Abstract

RNA binding proteins are a large and varied group of factors that are the driving force behind post-transcriptional gene regulation. By analogy with transcription factors, RNA binding proteins bind to various regions of the mRNAs that they regulate, usually upstream or downstream from the coding region, and modulate one of the five major processes in mRNA metabolism: splicing, polyadenylation, export, translation and decay. The most abundant RNA binding protein domain is called the RNA Recognition Motif (RRM)1. It is probably safe to say that an RRM-containing protein is making some contact with an mRNA throughout its existence. The transcriptional counterpart would likely be the histones, yet the multitude of specific functions that are results of RRM based interactions belies the universality of the motif. This complex and diverse application of a single protein motif was used as the basis to develop an advanced graduate level seminar course in RNA:protein interactions. The course, utilizing a learner-centered empowerment model, was developed to dissect each step in RNA metabolism from the perspective of an RRM containing protein. This provided a framework to discuss the development of specificity for the RRM for each required process.