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Abstract

Arginine methylation is a post-translational modification that regulates protein function. RNA-binding proteins are an important class of cell-function mediators, some of which are methylated on arginine. Early studies of RNA-binding proteins and arginine methylation are briefly introduced, and the enzymes that mediate this post-translational modification are described. We review the most common RNA-binding domains and briefly discuss how they associate with RNAs. We address the following groups of RNA-binding proteins: hnRNP, Sm, Piwi, Vasa, FMRP, and HuD. hnRNPs were the first RNA-binding proteins found to be methylated on arginine. The Sm proteins function in RNA processing and germ cell specification. The Piwi proteins are largely germ cell specific and are also required for germ cell production, as is Vasa. FMRP participates in germ cell formation in Drosophila, but is more widely known for its neuronal function. Similarly, HuD plays a role in nervous system development and function. We review the effects of arginine methylation on the function of each protein, then conclude by addressing remaining questions and future directions of arginine methylation as an important and emerging area of regulation. Mol. Reprod. Dev. 79: 163–175, 2012. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.