The RNA-binding protein La-related protein 1 (LARP1) plays a central role in ribosome biosynthesis. Its C-terminal DM15 region binds the 7-methylguanosine (m7G) cap and 5' terminal oligopyrimidine (TOP) motif characteristic of transcripts encoding ribosomal proteins and translation factors. Under the control of mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1), LARP1 regulates translation of these transcripts. Characterizing the dynamics of DM15-TOP recognition is essential to understanding this fundamental biological process. We use molecular dynamics simulations, biophysical assays, and X-ray crystallography to reveal the mechanism of DM15 binding to TOP transcripts. Residues C-terminal to the m7G-binding site play important roles in cap recognition. Furthermore, we show that the unusually static pocket that recognizes the +1 cytosine characteristic of TOP transcripts drives binding specificity. Finally, we demonstrate that the DM15 pockets involved in TOP-specific m7GpppC-motif recognition are likely druggable. Collectively, these studies suggest unique opportunities for further pharmacological development.
Keywords: DM15; LARP1; RNA-binding protein; TOP mRNA; X-ray crystallography; molecular dynamics; translation regulation.
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