The extended AT-hook is a novel RNA binding motif

<div><p>The AT-hook has been defined as a DNA binding peptide motif that contains a glycine-arginine-proline (G-R-P) tripeptide core flanked by basic amino acids. Recent reports documented variations in the sequence of AT-hooks and revealed RNA binding activity of some canonical AT-hooks, suggesting a higher structural and functional variability of this protein domain than previously anticipated. Here we describe the discovery and characterization of the extended AT-hook peptide motif (eAT-hook), in which basic amino acids appear symmetrical mainly at a distance of 12–15 amino acids from the G-R-P core. We identified 80 human and 60 mouse eAT-hook proteins and biochemically characterized the eAT-hooks of Tip5/BAZ2A, PTOV1 and GPBP1. Microscale thermophoresis and electrophoretic mobility shift assays reveal the nucleic acid binding features of this peptide motif, and show that eAT-hooks bind RNA with one order of magnitude higher affinity than DNA. In addition, cellular localization studies suggest a role for the N-terminal eAT-hook of PTOV1 in nucleocytoplasmic shuttling. In summary, our findings classify the eAT-hook as a novel nucleic acid binding motif, which potentially mediates various RNA-dependent cellular processes.</p></div>