UHM-ULM interactions in the RBM39-U2AF65 splicing-factor complex Academic Article uri icon

publication date

  • 2016


  • RNA-binding protein 39 (RBM39) is a splicing factor and a transcriptional co-activator of estrogen receptors and Jun/AP-1, and its function has been associated with malignant progression in a number of cancers. The C-terminal RRM domain of RBM39 belongs to the U2AF homology motif family (UHM), which mediate protein-protein interactions through a short tryptophan-containing peptide known as the UHM-ligand motif (ULM). Here, crystal and solution NMR structures of the RBM39-UHM domain, and the crystal structure of its complex with U2AF65-ULM, are reported. The RBM39-U2AF65 interaction was confirmed by co-immunoprecipitation from human cell extracts, by isothermal titration calorimetry and by NMR chemical shift perturbation experiments with the purified proteins. When compared with related complexes, such as U2AF35-U2AF65 and RBM39-SF3b155, the RBM39-UHM-U2AF65-ULM complex reveals both common and discriminating recognition elements in the UHM-ULM binding interface, providing a rationale for the known specificity of UHM-ULM interactions. This study therefore establishes a structural basis for specific UHM-ULM interactions by splicing factors such as U2AF35, U2AF65, RBM39 and SF3b155, and a platform for continued studies of intermolecular interactions governing disease-related alternative splicing in eukaryotic cells.