Nature communications

Backbone-independent nucleic acid binding by splicing factor SUP-12 reveals key aspects of molecular recognition.

PMID 25183497


Cellular differentiation is frequently accompanied by alternative splicing, enabled by the expression of tissue-specific factors which bind to pre-mRNAs and regulate exon choice. During Caenorhabditis elegans development, muscle-specific expression of the splicing factor SUP-12, together with a member of the Fox-1 family of splicing proteins, generates a functionally distinct isoform of the fibroblast growth factor receptor EGL-15. Using a combination of NMR spectroscopy and isothermal titration calorimetry, we determined the mode of nucleic acid binding by the RNA recognition motif domain of SUP-12. The calculated structures provide the first atomic details of RNA and DNA binding by the family of proteins that include SUP-12, RBM24, RBM38/RNPC1, SEB-4 and XSeb4R. This information was further used to design strategic mutations to probe the interaction with ASD-1 and to quantitatively perturb splicing in vivo.