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1.  Phospho-dependent and phospho-independent interactions of the helicase UPF1 with the NMD factors SMG5–SMG7 and SMG6 
Nucleic Acids Research  2014;42(14):9447-9460.
Nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD) is a eukaryotic surveillance pathway that recognizes mRNAs with premature stop codons and targets them for rapid degradation. Evidence from previous studies has converged on UPF1 as the central NMD factor. In human cells, the SMG1 kinase phosphorylates UPF1 at the N-terminal and C-terminal tails, in turn allowing the recruitment of the NMD factors SMG5, SMG6 and SMG7. To understand the molecular mechanisms, we recapitulated these steps of NMD in vitro using purified components. We find that a short C-terminal segment of phosphorylated UPF1 containing the last two Ser-Gln motifs is recognized by the heterodimer of SMG5 and SMG7 14–3–3-like proteins. In contrast, the SMG6 14–3–3-like domain is a monomer. The crystal structure indicates that the phosphoserine binding site of the SMG6 14–3–3-like domain is similar to that of SMG5 and can mediate a weak phospho-dependent interaction with UPF1. The dominant SMG6–UPF1 interaction is mediated by a low-complexity region bordering the 14–3–3-like domain of SMG6 and by the helicase domain and C-terminal tail of UPF1. This interaction is phosphorylation independent. Our study demonstrates that SMG5–SMG7 and SMG6 exhibit different and non-overlapping modes of UPF1 recognition, thus pointing at distinguished roles in integrating the complex NMD interaction network.
PMCID: PMC4132714  PMID: 25013172
2.  Attenuation of yeast UPR is essential for survival and is mediated by IRE1 kinase 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2011;193(1):41-50.
Mutations that impair activity of the ER stress response kinase Ire1 inhibit resolution of the unfolded protein response (see also a related paper by Rubio et al. in this issue).
The unfolded protein response (UPR) activates Ire1, an endoplasmic reticulum (ER) resident transmembrane kinase and ribonuclease (RNase), in response to ER stress. We used an in vivo assay, in which disappearance of the UPR-induced spliced HAC1 messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) correlates with the recovery of the ER protein-folding capacity, to investigate the attenuation of the UPR in yeast. We find that, once activated, spliced HAC1 mRNA is sustained in cells expressing Ire1 carrying phosphomimetic mutations within the kinase activation loop, suggesting that dephosphorylation of Ire1 is an important step in RNase deactivation. Additionally, spliced HAC1 mRNA is also sustained after UPR induction in cells expressing Ire1 with mutations in the conserved DFG kinase motif (D828A) or a conserved residue (F842) within the activation loop. The importance of proper Ire1 RNase attenuation is demonstrated by the inability of cells expressing Ire1-D828A to grow under ER stress. We propose that the activity of the Ire1 kinase domain plays a role in attenuating its RNase activity when ER function is recovered.
PMCID: PMC3082189  PMID: 21444691
3.  The SRSF1 linker induces semi-conservative ESE binding by cooperating with the RRMs 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;39(21):9413-9421.
SR proteins promote spliceosome formation by recognizing exonic splicing enhancers (ESEs) during pre-mRNA splicing. Each SR protein binds diverse ESEs using strategies that are yet to be elucidated. Here, we show that the RNA-binding domain (RBD) of SRSF1 optimally binds to decameric purine rich ESE sequences although locations of purines are not stringently specified. The presence of uracils either within or outside of the recognition site is detrimental for binding with SRSF1. The entire RBD, comprised of two RRMs and a glycine-rich linker, is essential for ESE binding. Mutation within each segment reduced or nearly abolished binding, suggesting that these segments mediate cooperative binding. The linker plays a decisive role in organizing ESE binding. The flanking basic regions of the linker appear to communicate with each other in bringing the two RRMs close together to form the complex with RNA. Our study thus suggests semi-conservative adaptable interaction between ESE and SRSF1, and such binding mode is not only essential for the recognition of plethora of physiological ESE sequences but may also be essential for the interaction with various factors during the spliceosome assembly.
PMCID: PMC3241662  PMID: 21852328
4.  A Sliding Docking Interaction Is Essential for Sequential and Processive Phosphorylation of an SR Protein by SRPK1 
Molecular cell  2008;29(5):563-576.
The 2.9 Å crystal structure of the core SRPK1:ASF/SF2 complex reveals that the N-terminal half of the basic RS domain of ASF/SF2, which is destined to be phosphorylated, is bound to an acidic docking groove of SRPK1 distal to the active site. Phosphorylation of ASF/SF2 at a single site in the C-terminal end of the RS domain generates a primed phosphoserine that binds to a basic site in the kinase. Biochemical experiments support a directional sliding of the RS peptide through the docking groove to the active site during phosphorylation, which ends with the unfolding of a β strand of the RRM domain and binding of the unfolded region to the docking groove. We further suggest that the priming of the first serine facilitates directional substrate translocation and efficient phosphorylation.
PMCID: PMC2852395  PMID: 18342604
5.  Deletion of the N-terminus of SF2/ASF Permits RS-Domain-Independent Pre-mRNA Splicing 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(9):e854.
Serine/arginine-rich (SR) proteins are essential splicing factors with one or two RNA-recognition motifs (RRMs) and a C-terminal arginine- and serine-rich (RS) domain. SR proteins bind to exonic splicing enhancers via their RRM(s), and from this position are thought to promote splicing by antagonizing splicing silencers, recruiting other components of the splicing machinery through RS-RS domain interactions, and/or promoting RNA base-pairing through their RS domains. An RS domain tethered at an exonic splicing enhancer can function as a splicing activator, and RS domains play prominent roles in current models of SR protein functions. However, we previously reported that the RS domain of the SR protein SF2/ASF is dispensable for in vitro splicing of some pre-mRNAs. We have now extended these findings via the identification of a short inhibitory domain at the SF2/ASF N-terminus; deletion of this segment permits splicing in the absence of this SR protein's RS domain of an IgM pre-mRNA substrate previously classified as RS-domain-dependent. Deletion of the N-terminal inhibitory domain increases the splicing activity of SF2/ASF lacking its RS domain, and enhances its ability to bind pre-mRNA. Splicing of the IgM pre-mRNA in S100 complementation with SF2/ASF lacking its RS domain still requires an exonic splicing enhancer, suggesting that an SR protein RS domain is not always required for ESE-dependent splicing activation. Our data provide additional evidence that the SF2/ASF RS domain is not strictly required for constitutive splicing in vitro, contrary to prevailing models for how the domains of SR proteins function to promote splicing.
PMCID: PMC1952110  PMID: 17786225

Results 1-5 (5)