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The SBP2 and 15.5 kD/Snu13p proteins share the same RNA binding domain: Identification of SBP2 amino acids important to SECIS RNA binding



Selenoprotein synthesis in eukaryotes requires the selenocysteine insertion sequence (SECIS) RNA, a hairpin in the 3′ untranslated region of selenoprotein mRNAs. The SECIS RNA is recognized by the SECIS-binding protein 2 (SBP2), which is a key player in this specialized translation machinery. The objective of this work was to obtain structural insight into the SBP2-SECIS RNA complex. Multiple sequence alignment revealed that SBP2 and the U4 snRNA-binding protein 15.5 kD/Snu13p share the same RNA binding domain of the L7A/L30 family, also found in the box H/ACA snoRNP protein Nhp2p and several ribosomal proteins. In corollary, we have detected a similar secondary structure motif in the SECIS and U4 RNAs. Combining the data of the crystal structure of the 15.5 kD-U4 snRNA complex, and the SBP2/15.5 kD sequence similarities, we designed a structure-guided strategy predicting 12 SBP2 amino acids that should be critical for SECIS RNA binding. Alanine substitution of these amino acids followed by gel shift assays of the SBP2 mutant proteins identified four residues whose mutation severely diminished or abolished SECIS RNA binding, the other eight provoking intermediate down effects. In addition to identifying key amino acids for SECIS recognition by SBP2, our findings led to the proposal that some of the recognition principles governing the 15.5 kD-U4 snRNA interaction must be similar in the SBP2-SECIS RNA complex.


Corresponding author

Reprint requests to: Alain Krol, Structure des Macromolécules Biologiques et Mécanismes de Reconnaissance, Unité Propre de Recherche 9002 du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique-Université Louis Pasteur, Institut de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire, 15 Rue René Descartes, 67084 Strasbourg Cedex, France; e-mail:



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