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The RNA helicase RHAU (DHX36) suppresses expression of the transcription factor PITX1.

Booy E.P., Howard R., Marushchak O., Ariyo E.O., Meier M., Novakowski S.K., Deo S.R., Dzananovic E., Stetefeld J., McKenna S.A.

RNA Helicase associated with AU-rich element (RHAU) (DHX36) is a DEAH (Aspartic acid, Glumatic Acid, Alanine, Histidine)-box RNA helicase that can bind and unwind G4-quadruplexes in DNA and RNA. To detect novel RNA targets of RHAU, we performed an RNA co-immunoprecipitation screen and identified the PITX1 messenger RNA (mRNA) as specifically and highly enriched. PITX1 is a homeobox transcription factor with roles in both development and cancer. Primary sequence analysis identified three probable quadruplexes within the 3'-untranslated region of the PITX1 mRNA. Each of these sequences, when isolated, forms stable quadruplex structures that interact with RHAU. We provide evidence that these quadruplexes exist in the endogenous mRNA; however, we discovered that RHAU is tethered to the mRNA via an alternative non-quadruplex-forming region. RHAU knockdown by small interfering RNA results in significant increases in PITX1 protein levels with only marginal changes in mRNA, suggesting a role for RHAU in translational regulation. Involvement of components of the microRNA machinery is supported by similar and non-additive increases in PITX1 protein expression on Dicer and combined RHAU/Dicer knockdown. We also demonstrate a requirement of argonaute-2, a key RNA-induced silencing complex component, to mediate RHAU-dependent changes in PITX1 protein levels. These results demonstrate a novel role for RHAU in microRNA-mediated translational regulation at a quadruplex-containing 3'-untranslated region.

Nucleic Acids Res. 42:3346-3361(2014) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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