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We identified and produced antibodies to the major proteins that interact with poly(A)+ RNAs in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The major proteins which were cross-linked by UV light to poly(A)+ RNA in intact yeast cells had apparent molecular weights of 72,000, 60,000, and 50,000. The poly(A) segment of the RNA was selectively cross-linked to the 72,000-molecular-weight protein (72K protein). Mice immunized with purified UV-cross-linked RNA-protein (RNP) complexes produced antibodies to the three major RNP proteins. A yeast genomic DNA library constructed in the lambda gt11 expression vector was screened with the anti-RNP serum, and recombinant bacteriophage clones were isolated. One recombinant phage, lambda YPA72.1, bearing a 2.5-kilobase insert, produced a large beta-galactosidase-RNP fusion protein. Affinity-selected antibodies from the anti-RNP serum on this fusion protein recognized a single 72K protein which was cross-linked to the poly(A) segment of RNA in the intact cell. Furthermore, the fusion protein of lambda YPA72.1 had specific poly(A)-binding activity. Therefore, lambda YPA72.1 encodes the 72K poly(A)-binding protein. Immunofluorescence microscopy showed that this protein was localized in the cytoplasm. Hybrid-selected mRNA translated in vitro produced the 72K poly(A)-binding protein, and mRNA blot analysis detected a single 2.1-kilobase mRNA. DNA blot analysis suggested a single gene for the poly(A)-binding protein. DNA sequence analysis of genomic clones spanning the entire gene revealed a long open reading frame encoding a 64,272-molecular-weight protein with several distinct domains and repeating structural elements. A sequence of 11 to 13 amino acids is repeated three times in this protein. Strikingly, this repeated sequence (RNP consensus sequence) is highly homologous to a sequence that is repeated twice in a major mammalian heterogeneous nuclear RNP protein, A1. The conservation of the repetitive RNP consensus sequence suggests an important function and a common evolutionary origin for messenger RNP and heterogeneous nuclear RNP proteins.