The heterogeneous ribonucleoprotein A18 (hnRNP A18) is upregulated in hypoxic regions of various solid tumors and promotes tumor growth via the coordination of mRNA transcripts associated with pro-survival genes. Thus, hnRNP A18 represents an important therapeutic target in tumor cells. Presented here is the first X-ray crystal structure to be reported for the RNA-recognition motif of hnRNP A18. By comparing this structure with those of homologous RNA-binding proteins (i.e. hnRNP A1), three residues on one face of an antiparallel β-sheet (Arg48, Phe50 and Phe52) and one residue in an unstructured loop (Arg41) were identified as likely to be involved in protein-nucleic acid interactions. This structure helps to serve as a foundation for biophysical studies of this RNA-binding protein and structure-based drug-design efforts for targeting hnRNP A18 in cancer, such as malignant melanoma, where hnRNP A18 levels are elevated and contribute to disease progression.
Keywords: RNA-binding protein; RNA-recognition motif; crystal structure; heterogeneous ribonucleoprotein A18; hnRNP A18; tumor growth.