Terminal minihelix, a novel RNA motif that directs polymerase III transcripts to the cell cytoplasm. Terminal minihelix and RNA export.
Determining the cis-acting elements controlling nuclear export of RNA is critical, because they specify which RNA will be selected for transport. We have characterized the nuclear export motif of the adenoviral VA1 RNA, a small cytoplasmic RNA transcribed by RNA polymerase III. Using a large panel of VA1 mutants in both transfected COS cells and injected Xenopus oocytes, we showed that the terminal stem of VA1 is necessary and sufficient for its export. Surprisingly, we found that the nucleotide sequence within the terminal stem is not important. Rather, the salient features of this motif are its length and its relative position within the RNA. Such stems thus define a novel and degenerate cytoplasmic localization motif that we termed the minihelix. This motif is found in a variety of polymerase III transcripts, and cross-competition analysis in Xenopus oocytes revealed that export of one such RNA, like hY1 RNA, is specifically competed by VA1 or artificial minihelix. Taken together these results show that the minihelix defines a new cis-acting export element and that this motif could be exported via a novel and specific nuclear export pathway.
PubMed ID: 11342536
Article link: J Biol Chem.
Grant support: GM54887 NIGMS NIH HHS , GM57071 NIGMS NIH HHS