Promiscuous modification of the nuclear poly(A)-binding protein by multiple protein-arginine methyltransferases does not affect the aggregation behavior

J Biol Chem. 2008 Jul 18;283(29):20408-20. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M802329200. Epub 2008 May 21.


The mammalian nuclear poly(A)-binding protein, PABPN1, carries 13 asymmetrically dimethylated arginine residues in its C-terminal domain. By fractionation of cell extracts, we found that protein-arginine methyltransferases (PRMTs)-1, -3, and -6 are responsible for the modification of PABPN1. Recombinant PRMT1, -3, and -6 also methylated PABPN1. Our data suggest that these enzymes act on their own, and additional polypeptides are not involved in recognizing PABPN1 as a substrate. PRMT1 is the predominant methyltransferase acting on PABPN1. Nevertheless, PABPN1 was almost fully methylated in a Prmt1(-/-) cell line; thus, PRMT3 and -6 suffice for methylation. In contrast to PABPN1, the heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein (hnRNP) K is selectively methylated only by PRMT1. Efficient methylation of synthetic peptides derived from PABPN1 or hnRNP K suggested that PRMT1, -3, and -6 recognize their substrates by interacting with local amino acid sequences and not with additional domains of the substrates. However, the use of fusion proteins suggested that the inability of PRMT3 and -6 to modify hnRNP K is because of structural masking of the methyl-accepting amino acid sequences by neighboring domains. Mutations leading to intracellular aggregation of PABPN1 cause the disease oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy. The C-terminal domain containing the methylated arginine residues is known to promote PAPBN1 self-association, and arginine methylation has been reported to inhibit self-association of an orthologous protein. Thus, arginine methylation might be relevant for oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy. However, in two different types of assays we have been unable to detect any effect of arginine methylation on the aggregation of bovine PABPN1.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism*
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Methylation
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Poly(A)-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Protein-Arginine N-Methyltransferases / genetics
  • Protein-Arginine N-Methyltransferases / metabolism*
  • Recombinant Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism
  • Substrate Specificity


  • Poly(A)-Binding Proteins
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Protein-Arginine N-Methyltransferases