Co-occupancy of two Pumilio molecules on a single hunchback NRE

Yogesh K. Gupta, Tammy H. Lee, Thomas A. Edwards, Carlos R. Escalante, Lyudmila Y. Kadyrova, Robin P. Wharton, Aneel K. Aggarwal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Pumilio controls a number of processes in eukaryotes, including the translational repression of hunchback (hb) mRNA in early Drosophila embryos. The Pumilio Puf domain binds to a pair of 32 nucleotide (nt) Nanos response elements (NRE1 and NRE2) within the 3′ untranslated region of hb mRNA. Despite the elucidation of structures of human Pumilio Puf domain in complex with hb RNA elements, the nature of hb mRNA recognition remains unclear. In particular, the site that mediates regulation in vivo is significantly larger than the 8-10-nt RNA elements bound to single Puf molecules in crystal structures. Here we present biophysical and biochemical data that partially resolve the paradox. We show that each NRE is composed of two binding sites (Box A and Box B) and that two Puf domains can co-occupy a single NRE. The Puf domains have a higher affinity for the 3′ Box B site than the 5′ Box A site; binding to the intact NRE appears to be cooperative (at least in some experiments). We suggest that the 2 Pumilio:1 NRE complex is the functional regulatory unit in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1029-1035
Number of pages7
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • 3′
  • Hunchback
  • Puf domain
  • Pumilio
  • UTRs
  • mRNA translation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology


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