The Drosophila behaviour/human splicing (DBHS) proteins are a family of RNA/DNA binding cofactors liable for a range of cellular processes. DBHS proteins include the non-POU domain-containing octamer-binding protein (NONO) and paraspeckle protein component 1 (PSPC1), proteins capable of forming combinatorial dimers. Here, we describe the crystal structures of the human NONO and PSPC1 homodimers, representing uncharacterized DBHS dimerization states. The structures reveal a set of conserved contacts and structural plasticity within the dimerization interface that provide a rationale for dimer selectivity between DBHS paralogues. In addition, solution X-ray scattering and accompanying biochemical experiments describe a mechanism of cooperative RNA recognition by the NONO homodimer. Nucleic acid binding is reliant on RRM1, and appears to be affected by the orientation of RRM1, influenced by a newly identified 'β-clasp' structure. Our structures shed light on the molecular determinants for DBHS homo- and heterodimerization and provide a basis for understanding how DBHS proteins cooperatively recognize a broad spectrum of RNA targets.
© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.