Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are an emerging class of transcripts that can modulate gene expression; however, their mechanisms of action remain poorly understood. Here, MIT researchers experimentally determine the secondary structure of Braveheart (Bvht) using chemical probing methods and show that this ∼590 nt transcript has a modular fold. Using CRISPR/Cas9-mediated editing of mouse embryonic stem cells, they find that deletion of 11 nt in a 5′ asymmetric G-rich internal loop (AGIL) of Bvht (bvhtdAGIL) dramatically impairs cardiomyocyte differentiation. The researchers demonstrate a specific interaction between AGIL and cellular nucleic acid binding protein (CNBP/ZNF9), a zinc-finger protein known to bind single-stranded G-rich sequences. They further show that CNBP deletion partially rescues the bvhtdAGIL mutant phenotype by restoring differentiation capacity. Together, this work shows that Bvht functions with CNBP through a well-defined RNA motif to regulate cardiovascular lineage commitment, opening the door for exploring broader roles of RNA structure in development and disease.
G-Rich Motif in the lncRNA Braveheart Interacts with a Zinc-Finger Transcription Factor to Specify the Cardiovascular Lineage
Xue Z, Hennelly S, Doyle B, Gulati AA, Novikova IV, Sanbonmatsu KY, Boyer LA. (2016) A G-Rich Motif in the lncRNA Braveheart Interacts with a Zinc-Finger Transcription Factor to Specify the Cardiovascular Lineage. Mol Cell 64(1):37-50. [abstract]