Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) often carry out their functions through associations with adaptor proteins. We recently identified heterogeneous ribonucleoprotein (hnRNP) A2/B1 as an adaptor of the human HOTAIR lncRNA. hnRNP A2 and B1 are splice isoforms of the same gene. The spliced version of HOTAIR preferentially associates with the B1 isoform, which we hypothesize contributes to RNA-RNA matching between HOTAIR and transcripts of target genes in breast cancer. Here we used enhanced cross-linking immunoprecipitation (eCLIP) to map the direct interactions between A2/B1 and RNA in breast cancer cells. Despite differing by only twelve amino acids, the A2 and B1 splice isoforms associate preferentially with distinct populations of RNA in vivo. Through cellular fractionation experiments we characterize the pattern of RNA association in chromatin, nucleoplasm, and cytoplasm. We find that a majority of interactions occur on chromatin, even those that do not contribute to co-transcriptional splicing. A2/B1 binding site locations on multiple RNAs hint at a contribution to the regulation and function of lncRNAs. Surprisingly, the strongest A2/B1 binding site occurs in a retained intron of HOTAIR, which interrupts an RNA-RNA interaction hotspot. In vitro eCLIP experiments highlight additional exonic B1 binding sites in HOTAIR which also surround the RNA-RNA interaction hotspot. Interestingly, a version of HOTAIR with the intron retained is still capable of making RNA-RNA interactions in vitro through the hotspot region. Our data further characterize the multiple functions of a repurposed splicing factor with isoform-biased interactions, and highlight that the majority of these functions occur on chromatin-associated RNA.
Keywords: HOTAIR; RNA-RNA interactions; Xist; chromatin; hnRNP A2/B1; long noncoding RNA.