Structures and target RNA preferences of the RNA-binding protein family of IGF2BPs: An overview

Structure. 2021 Aug 5;29(8):787-803. doi: 10.1016/j.str.2021.05.001. Epub 2021 May 21.


Insulin-like growth factor 2 mRNA-binding proteins (IMPs, IGF2BPs) act in mRNA transport and translational control but are oncofetal tumor marker proteins. The IMP protein family represents a number of bona fide multi-domain RNA-binding proteins with up to six RNA-binding domains, resulting in a high complexity of possible modes of interactions with target mRNAs. Their exact mechanism in stability control of oncogenic mRNAs is only partially understood. Our and other laboratories' recent work has significantly pushed the understanding of IMP protein specificities both toward RNA engagement and between each other from NMR and crystal structures serving the basis for systematic biochemical and functional investigations. We here summarize the known structural and biochemical information about IMP RNA-binding domains and their RNA preferences. The article also touches on the respective roles of RNA secondary and protein tertiary structures for specific RNA-protein complexes, including the limited knowledge about IMPs' protein-protein interactions, which are often RNA mediated.

Keywords: IGF2BPs (IMPs); KH domain; NMR spectroscopy; RNA-binding domain; RRM domain; X-ray crystallography; mRNA; mRNP; miRNA; multi-domain RNA-binding proteins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Humans
  • Models, Molecular
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Biomolecular
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • RNA, Messenger / chemistry
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / chemistry*
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*


  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA-Binding Proteins