Interactions between PTB RRMs Induce Slow Motions and Increase RNA Binding Affinity

Caroline M. Maynard, Kathleen B. Hall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Polypyrimidine tract binding protein (PTB) participates in a variety of functions in eukaryotic cells, including alternative splicing, mRNA stabilization, and internal ribosomal entry site-mediated translation initiation. Its mechanism of RNA recognition is determined in part by the novel geometry of its two C-terminal RNA recognition motifs (RRM3 and RRM4), which interact with each other to form a stable complex (PTB1:34). This complex itself is unusual among RRMs, suggesting that it performs a specific function for the protein. In order to understand the advantage it provides to PTB, the fundamental properties of PTB1:34 are examined here as a comparative study of the complex and its two constituent RRMs. Both RRM3 and RRM4 adopt folded structures that NMR data show to be similar to their structure in PRB1:34. The RNA binding properties of the domains differ dramatically. The affinity of each separate RRM for polypyrimidine tracts is far weaker than that of PTB1:34, and simply mixing the two RRMs does not create an equivalent binding platform. 15N NMR relaxation experiments show that PTB1:34 has slow, microsecond motions throughout both RRMs including the interdomain linker. This is in contrast to the individual domains, RRM3 and RRM4, where only a few backbone amides are flexible on this time scale. The slow backbone dynamics of PTB1:34, induced by packing of RRM3 and RRM4, could be essential for high-affinity binding to a flexible polypyrimidine tract RNA and also provide entropic compensation for its own formation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)260-277
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Molecular Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 19 2010


  • 15N relaxation
  • RNA binding
  • RRM
  • polypyrimidine tract binding protein
  • protein dynamics


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