Trans-regulation of RNA-binding protein motifs by microRNA

Front Genet. 2014 Apr 15;5:79. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2014.00079. eCollection 2014.

Abstract

The wide array of vital functions that RNA performs is dependent on its ability to dynamically fold into different structures in response to intracellular and extracellular changes. RNA-binding proteins regulate much of this activity by targeting specific RNA structures or motifs. One of these structures, the 3-way RNA junction, is characteristically found in ribosomal RNA and results from the RNA folding in cis, to produce three separate helices that meet around a central unpaired region. Here we demonstrate that 3-way junctions can also form in trans as a result of the binding of microRNAs in an unconventional manner with mRNA by splinting two non-contiguous regions together. This may be used to reinforce the base of a stem-loop motif being targeted by an RNA-binding protein. Trans interactions between non-coding RNA and mRNA may be used to control the post-transcriptional regulatory code and suggests a possible role for some of the recently described transcripts of unknown function expressed from the human genome.

Keywords: RNA-binding proteins (RBPs); dark matter; microRNA (miRNA); non-coding RNA; post-transcriptional regulation; stem-loop binding protein (SLBP); structural interacting RNA (sxRNA).