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Genetic analysis of functional domains within the Drosophila LARK RNA-binding protein.

McNeil G.P., Schroeder A.J., Roberts M.A., Jackson F.R.

LARK is an essential Drosophila RNA-binding protein of the RNA recognition motif (RRM) class that functions during embryonic development and for the circadian regulation of adult eclosion. LARK protein contains three consensus RNA-binding domains: two RRM domains and a retroviral-type zinc finger (RTZF). To show that these three structural domains are required for function, we performed a site-directed mutagenesis of the protein. The analysis of various mutations, in vivo, indicates that the RRM domains and the RTZF are required for wild-type LARK functions. RRM1 and RRM2 are essential for viability, although interestingly either domain can suffice for this function. Remarkably, mutation of either RRM2 or the RTZF results in the same spectrum of phenotypes: mutants exhibit reduced viability, abnormal wing and mechanosensory bristle morphology, female sterility, and flightlessness. The severity of these phenotypes is similar in single mutants and double RRM2; RTZF mutants, indicating a lack of additivity for the mutations and suggesting that RRM2 and the RTZF act together, in vivo, to determine LARK function. Finally, we show that mutations in RRM1, RRM2, or the RTZF do not affect the circadian regulation of eclosion, and we discuss possible interpretations of these results. This genetic analysis demonstrates that each of the LARK structural domains functions in vivo and indicates a pleiotropic requirement for both the LARK RRM2 and RTZF domains.

Genetics 159:229-240(2001) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]