Insights from the HuR-interacting transcriptome: ncRNAs, ubiquitin pathways, and patterns of secondary structure dependent RNA interactions

Mol Genet Genomics. 2012 Dec;287(11-12):867-79. doi: 10.1007/s00438-012-0722-8. Epub 2012 Oct 4.


The HuR protein regulates the expression of thousands of cellular transcripts by modulating mRNA splicing, trafficking, translation, and stability. Although it serves as a model of RNA-protein interactions, many features of HuR's interactions with RNAs remain unknown. In this report, we deployed the cryogenic RNA immunoprecipitation technique to analyze HuR-interacting RNAs with the Affymetrix all-exon microarray platform. We revealed several thousand novel HuR-interacting RNAs, including hundreds of non-coding RNAs such as natural antisense transcripts from stress responsive loci. To gain insight into the mechanisms of specificity and sensitivity of HuR's interaction with its target RNAs, we searched HuR-interacting RNAs for composite patterns of primary sequence and secondary structure. We provide evidence that secondary structures of 66-75 nucleotides enhance HuR's recognition of its specific RNA targets composed of short primary sequence patterns. We validated thousands of these RNAs by analysis of overlap with recently published findings, including HuR's interaction with RNAs in the pathways of RNA splicing and stability. Finally, we observed a striking enrichment for members of ubiquitin ligase pathways among the HuR-interacting mRNAs, suggesting a new role for HuR in the regulation of protein degradation to mirror its known function in protein translation.

MeSH terms

  • ELAV Proteins / chemistry
  • ELAV Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immunoprecipitation / methods
  • RNA, Antisense / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / chemistry*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • Transcriptome
  • Ubiquitin / metabolism*


  • ELAV Proteins
  • RNA, Antisense
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Ubiquitin