The human ribosomal protein L7a is a component of the major ribosomal subunit. We previously identified three nuclear-localization-competent domains within L7a, and demonstrated that the domain defined by aa (amino acids) 52–100 is necessary, although not sufficient, to target the L7a protein to the nucleoli. We now demonstrate that L7a interacts in vitro with a presumably G-rich RNA structure, which has yet to be defined. We also demonstrate that the L7a protein contains two RNA-binding domains: one encompassing aa 52–100 (RNAB1) and the other encompassing aa 101–161 (RNAB2). RNAB1 does not contain any known nucleic-acid-binding motif, and may thus represent a new class of such motifs. On the other hand, a specific region of RNAB2 is highly conserved in several other protein components of the ribonucleoprotein complex. We have investigated the topology of the L7a–RNA complex using a recombinant form of the protein domain that encompasses residues 101–161 and a 30mer poly(G) oligonucleotide. Limited proteolysis and cross-linking experiments, and mass spectral analyses of the recombinant protein domain and its complex with poly(G) revealed the RNA-binding region.

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