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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Dimerization of the 3'UTR of bicoid mRNA involves a two-step mechanism.

The proper localization of bicoid (bcd) mRNA requires cis-acting signals within its 3' untranslated region (UTR) and trans-acting factors such as Staufen. Dimerization of bcd mRNA through intermolecular base-pairing between two complementary loops of domain III of the 3'UTR was proposed to be important for particle formation in the embryo. The participation in the dimerization process of each domain building the 3'UTR was evaluated by thermodynamic and kinetic analysis of various mutated and truncated RNAs. Although sequence complementarity between the two loops of domain III is required for initiating mRNA dimerization, the initial reversible loop-loop complex is converted rapidly into an almost irreversible complex. This conversion involves parts of RNA outside of domain III that promote initial recognition, and dimerization can be inhibited by sense or antisense oligonucleotides only before conversion has proceeded. Injection of the different bcd RNA variants into living Drosophila embryos shows that all elements that inhibit RNA dimerization in vitro prevent formation of localized particles containing Staufen. Particle formation appeared to be dependent on both mRNA dimerization and other element(s) in domains IV and V. Domain III of bcd mRNA could be substituted by heterologous dimerization motifs of different geometry. The resulting dimers were converted into stable forms, independently of the dimerization module used. Moreover, these chimeric RNAs were competent in forming localized particles and recruiting Staufen. The finding that the dimerization domain of bcd mRNA is interchangeable suggests that dimerization by itself, and not the precise geometry of the intermolecular interactions, is essential for the localization process. This suggests that the stabilizing interactions that are formed during the second step of the dimerization process might represent crucial elements for Staufen recognition and localization.[1]


  1. Dimerization of the 3'UTR of bicoid mRNA involves a two-step mechanism. Wagner, C., Palacios, I., Jaeger, L., St Johnston, D., Ehresmann, B., Ehresmann, C., Brunel, C. J. Mol. Biol. (2001) [Pubmed]
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