The RNA-binding complex ESCRT-II in Xenopus laevis eggs recognizes purine-rich sequences through its subunit Vps25 [Cell Biology]

June 14th, 2018 by Amy B Emerman, Michael Blower

RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) are critical regulators of gene expression. Recent studies have uncovered hundreds of mRNA-binding proteins that do not contain annotated RNA-binding domains and have well-established roles in other cellular processes. Investigation of these nonconventional RBPs is critical for revealing novel RNA-binding domains and may disclose connections between RNA regulation and other aspects of cell biology. Endosomal sorting complex required for transport II (ESCRT-II) is a nonconventional RNA-binding complex that has a canonical role in multivesicular body formation. ESCRT-II previously has been identified as an RNA-binding complex in Drosophila oocytes, but whether its RNA-binding properties extend beyond Drosophila is unknown. In this study, we found that the RNA-binding properties of ESCRT-II are conserved in Xenopus eggs, where ESCRT-II interacted with hundreds of mRNAs. Using a UV-crosslinking approach, we demonstrated that ESCRT-II binds directly to RNA through its subunit Vps25. UV-crosslinking and immunoprecipitation (CLIP)-Seq revealed that Vps25 specifically recognizes a polypurine (i.e. GA-rich) motif in RNA. Using purified components, we could reconstitute the selective Vps25-mediated binding of the polypurine motif in vitro. Our results provide insight into the mechanism by which ESCRT-II selectively binds to mRNAs and also suggest an unexpected link between endosome biology and RNA regulation.