A Sub-Element in PRE enhances nuclear export of intronless mRNAs by recruiting the TREX complex via ZC3H18

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Viral RNA elements that facilitate mRNA export are useful tools for identifying cellular RNA export factors. Here we show that hepatitis B virus post-transcriptional element (PRE) is one such element, and using PRE several new cellular mRNA export factors were identified. We found that PRE drastically enhances the cytoplasmic accumulation of cDNA transcripts independent of any viral protein. Systematic deletion analysis revealed the existence of a 116 nt functionalSub-Element ofPRE (SEP1). The RNP that forms on the SEP1 RNA was affinity purified, in which TREX components as well as several other proteins were identified. TREX components and the SEP1-associating protein ZC3H18 are required for SEP1-mediated mRNA export. Significantly, ZC3H18 directly binds to the SEP1 RNA, interacts with TREX and is required for stable association of TREX with the SEP1-containing mRNA. Requirements for SEP1-mediated mRNA export are similar to those for splicing-dependent mRNA export. Consistent with these similarities, several SEP1-interacting proteins, including ZC3H18, ARS2, Acinus and Brr2, are required for efficient nuclear export of polyA RNAs. Together, our data indicate that SEP1 enhances mRNA export by recruiting TREX via ZC3H18. The new mRNA export factors that we identified might be involved in cap- and splicing-dependent TREX recruitment to cellular mRNAs.

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