Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Interdisciplinary Graduate Program


Program in Molecular Medicine

First Thesis Advisor

Marian Walhout, PhD


3' Untranslated Regions, Caenorhabditis elegans, Immunoprecipitation, RNA-Binding Proteins


Dissertations, UMMS; 3' Untranslated Regions; Caenorhabditis elegans; Immunoprecipitation; RNA-Binding Proteins


Interactions between 3´ untranslated regions (UTRs) and RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) play critical roles in post-transcriptional gene regulation. Metazoan genomes encode hundreds of RBPs and thousands of 3’ UTRs have been experimentally identified, yet the spectrum of interactions between 3´UTRs and RBPs remains largely unknown. Several methods are available to map these interactions, including protein-centered methods such as RBP immunoprecipitation (RIP) and cross-link immunoprecipitation (CLIP), yeast three-hybrid assays and RNAcompete. However, there is a paucity of RNA-centered approaches for assaying an RNA element of interest against multiple RBPs in a parallel, scalable manner.

Here, I present a strategy for delineating protein-RNA interaction networks using a gene centered approach. This approach includes annotating RBPs and identifying physical interactions between an RNA of interest and these RBPs using the Protein-RNA Interaction Mapping Assay (PRIMA). Few RBPs have been experimentally determined in most eukaryotic organisms. Therefore I show that existing RBP annotations can be supplemented using computational predictions of RNA binding domains (RBD) from protein sequences. A single RNA of interest can be tested using PRIMA against a library of RBPs constructed from these annotations. PRIMA utilizes the green fluorescent protein (GFP) in yeast as a reporter.

PRIMA is based on reconstitution of the interaction between the 5´ and 3´ ends of an mRNA, which increases mRNA stability and enhances translation. PRIMA recapitulates known and uncovers new interactions involving RBPs from human, Caenorhabditis elegans and bacteriophage with short RNA fragments and full-length 3´UTRs. The development of RBP prey libraries will enable the testing of 3´UTRs against the hundreds of RBPs, which is essential to gain broad insights into post-transcriptional gene regulation at a systems level.



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