The discovery of roles for arginine methylation in intracellular transport and mRNA splicing has focused attention on the methylated arginine-glycine (RG)-rich domains found in many eukaryotic RNA-binding proteins. Sequence similarity among these highly repetitive RG domains, combined with interactions between RG-rich proteins, raises the question of whether these regions are general interaction motifs or whether there is specificity within these domains. Using the essential Saccharomyces cerevisiae mRNA-binding protein Npl3 (ScNpl3) as a model system, we first tested the importance of the RG domain for protein function. While Npl3 lacking the RG domain could not support growth of cells lacking Npl3, surprisingly, expression of the RG domain alone supported partial growth of these cells. To address the specificity of this domain, we created chimeric forms of ScNpl3 with RG-rich domains of S. cerevisiae nucleolar proteins, Gar1 and Nop1 (ScGar1, ScNop1), or of the Candida albicans Npl3 ortholog (CaNpl3). Whereas the CaNpl3 RG chimeric protein retained nearly wild-type function in S. cerevisiae, the ScGar1 and ScNop1 RG domains significantly reduced Npl3 function and self-association, indicating RG domain specificity. Nuclear localization of Npl3 also requires specific RG sequences, yet heterologous RG domains allow similar modulation of Npl3 transport by arginine methylation.
McBride, Anne E.; Conboy, Ana K.; Brown, Shanique P.; Ariyachet, Chaiyaboot; and Rutledge, Kate L., "Specific sequences within arginine-glycine-rich domains affect mRNA-binding protein function" (2009). Biology Faculty Publications. 111.