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Antagonistic and cooperative AGO2-PUM interactions in regulating mRNAs.


Approximately 1500 RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) profoundly impact mammalian cellular function by controlling distinct sets of transcripts, often using sequence-specific binding to 3' untranslated regions (UTRs) to regulate mRNA stability and translation. Aside from their individual effects, higher-order combinatorial interactions between RBPs on specific mRNAs have been proposed to underpin the regulatory network. To assess the extent of such co-regulatory control, we took a global experimental approach followed by targeted validation to examine interactions between two well-characterized and highly conserved RBPs, Argonaute2 (AGO2) and Pumilio (PUM1 and PUM2). Transcriptome-wide changes in AGO2-mRNA binding upon PUM knockdown were quantified by CLIP-seq, and the presence of PUM binding on the same 3'UTR corresponded with cooperative and antagonistic effects on AGO2 occupancy. In addition, PUM binding sites that overlap with AGO2 showed differential, weakened binding profiles upon abrogation of AGO2 association, indicative of cooperative interactions. In luciferase reporter validation of candidate 3'UTR sites where AGO2 and PUM colocalized, three sites were identified to host antagonistic interactions, where PUM counteracts miRNA-guided repression. Interestingly, the binding sites for the two proteins are too far for potential antagonism due to steric hindrance, suggesting an alternate mechanism. Our data experimentally confirms the combinatorial regulatory model and indicates that the mostly repressive PUM proteins can change their behavior in a context-dependent manner. Overall, the approach underscores the importance of further elucidation of complex interactions between RBPs and their transcriptome-wide extent.

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