Although in vitro methods have been used to identify putative targets of mRNA-binding proteins, direct in vivo methods are needed to identify endogenously associated mRNAs and their cognate proteins. Therefore, we have developed high-throughput methods to identify structurally and/or functionally related mRNA transcripts through their endogenous association with RNA-binding proteins. We have termed the identification and analysis of mRNA subsets using RNA-associated proteins ribonomics, and have established four primary steps for the method: (1) isolation of endogenous mRNA-protein complexes (mRNPs) under optimized conditions, (2) the en masse characterization of the protein and mRNA components associated with the targeted mRNP complexes, (3) identification of sequences or structural similarities among members of the mRNA subset, and (4) determination of functional relationships among the protein products coded for by members of the mRNA subset. We have hypothesized that mRNAs are organized into structurally and functionally linked groups to better affect information transfer through coordinate gene expression. The functional consequences of such organization would be to facilitate the production of proteins that regulate processes necessary for growth and differentiation. This article describes a series of biochemical techniques that deal with the first two steps of ribonomic profiling: purifying endogenous mRNP complexes and identifying multiple mRNA targets using microarray analysis.
(c) 2002 Elsevier Science (USA).