mRNA localization provides a mechanism for localized protein synthesis. mRNAs encoding certain proteins, including c-MYC, c-FOS, MT-1 (Metallothionein-1) and vimentin, are localized around the nuclei of mammalian cells and are associated with the cytoskeleton. Targeting of these mRNAs to the perinuclear cytoplasm is mediated by elements within their 3′-UTRs (3′-untranslated regions), but many of the trans-acting proteins remain unidentified. UV cross-linking assays using radiolabelled transcripts indicated that a protein of approx. 50 kDa (from the Chinese-hamster ovary cell extracts) bound to the MT-1 3′-UTR sequence. Competition experiments using unlabelled mutant 3′-UTR RNAs revealed that the binding of this protein is specific to localization-positive mutants. Isolation of a 50 kDa protein was achieved by an RNA affinity-based method in which biotinylated MT-1 3′-UTR RNA was anchored to paramagnetic beads. Bound proteins were eluted and analysed by SDS/PAGE. The 50 kDa protein was extracted from the gel, subjected to trypsin digestion and identified by matrix-assisted laser-desorption/ionization–time-of-flight mass spectrometry as eukaryote elongation factor 1α.

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