Identification of Novel N6-methyladenosine (m6A) Reader Proteins and the Characterization of their Molecular and Physiological Functions

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2022

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N6-methyladenosine (m6A) is deposited co-transcriptionally on thousands of cellular mRNAs and plays important roles in mRNA processing and cellular function. m6A is particularly abundant within the brain and is critical for neurodevelopment. However, the mechanisms through which m6A contributes to brain development are inco¬¬mpletely understood. Here, we discover serine-/arginine-rich splicing factor 7 (SRSF7) and RNA-binding motif-containing protein 45 (RBM45) as m6A-binding proteins in transformed hippocampal neurons. We find that SRSF7 binds to exon-intron junctions in methylated pre-mRNA targets and regulates the gene expression of thousands of cellular mRNAs, including the m6A RNA methyltransferase, METTL3. We find that RBM45 binds to thousands of cellular RNAs, predominantly within intronic regions. Rbm45 depletion disrupts the constitutive splicing of a subset of target pre-mRNAs, leading to altered mRNA and protein levels through both m6A-dependent and m6A-independent mechanisms. Finally, we find that RBM45 is highly expressed during embryonic neurodevelopment, demonstrating that expression of RBM45 is necessary for neuroblastoma cell differentiation and that its depletion impacts the expression of genes involved in several neurodevelopmental signaling pathways. Altogether, our findings identify roles for SRSF7 and RBM45 in gene expression regulation, and highlight a previously unknown function for RBM45 in the control of pre-mRNA processing and neuronal differentiation, mediated in part by the recognition of methylated RNA.

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Choi, Seung Ho (2022). Identification of Novel N6-methyladenosine (m6A) Reader Proteins and the Characterization of their Molecular and Physiological Functions. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/26798.

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