Theses Doctoral

Structural and Biochemical Studies of the Human pre-mRNA 3’-end Processing Complex

Hamilton, Keith

Most eukaryotic pre-mRNAs undergo 3′-end cleavage and polyadenylation prior to their export from the nucleus. A large number of proteins in several complexes participate in this 3′-end processing, including cleavage and polyadenylation specificity factor (CPSF) in mammals. The CPSF can be further divided into two sub-complexes: mPSF (mammalian polyadenylation specificity factor) which recognizes the AAUAAA polyadenylation signal (PAS) in the pre- mRNA, and mCF (mammalian cleavage factor) which cleaves the RNA. mPSF consists of CPSF160, CPSF30, WDR33, and hFip1. This thesis shows that AAUAAA PAS is recognized with ∼3 nM affinity by the CPSF160–WDR33–CPSF30 ternary complex, while the proteins alone or the binary complexes do not bind the PAS with high affinity. Furthermore, it is shown that mutations of residues in CPSF30 that have van der Waals interactions with the bases of the PAS lead to a sharp reduction in the affinity. Finally, variations of the AAUAAA or removing the bases downstream also reduce the binding significantly. This thesis goes on to characterize the structure of the CPSF30—hFip1 complex, which was not observed in the previous EM structures of the mPSF. It was known that CPSF30 ZF4–ZF5 recruits the hFip1 subunit of CPSF, although the details of this interaction have not been characterized. Here we report the crystal structure of human CPSF30 ZF4–ZF5 in complex with residues 161–200 of hFip1 at 1.9 Å. Unexpectedly, the structure reveals one hFip1 molecule binding to each ZF4 and ZF5, with a conserved mode of interaction. Mutagenesis studies confirm that the CPSF30–hFip1 complex has 1:2 stoichiometry in vitro. Mutation of each binding site in CPSF30 still allows one copy of hFip1 to bind, while mutation of both sites abrogates binding. Our fluorescence polarization binding assays show that ZF4 has higher affinity for hFip1, with a Kd of 1.8 nM. We also demonstrate that two copies of the catalytic module of poly(A) polymerase (PAP) are recruited by the CPSF30–hFip1 complex in vitro, and both hFip1 binding sites in CPSF30 can support polyadenylation.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Biological Sciences
Thesis Advisors
Tong, Liang
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
January 11, 2021