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Monitoring protein-RNA interaction dynamics in vivo at high temporal resolution using χCRAC

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Original languageEnglish
Article numbere61027
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE)
Publication statusPublished - 9 May 2020


The interaction between RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) and their RNA substrates exhibits fluidity and complexity. Within its lifespan, a single RNA can be bound by many different RBPs that will regulate its production, stability, activity, and degradation. As such, much has been done to understand the dynamics that exist between these two types of molecules. A particularly important breakthrough came with the emergence of ‘cross-linking and immunoprecipitation’ (CLIP). This technique allowed stringent investigation into which RNAs are bound by a particular RBP. In short, the protein of interest is UV cross-linked to its RNA substrates in vivo, purified under highly stringent conditions, and then the RNAs covalently cross-linked to the protein are converted into cDNA libraries and sequenced. Since its conception, many derivative techniques have been developed in order to make CLIP amenable to particular fields of study. However, cross-linking using ultraviolet light is notoriously inefficient. This results in extended exposure times that make the temporal study of RBP-RNA interactions impossible. To overcome this issue, we recently designed and built much-improved UV irradiation and cell harvesting devices. Using these new tools, we developed a protocol for time-resolved analyses of RBP-RNA interactions in living cells at high temporal resolution: Kinetic CRoss-linking and Analysis of cDNAs (χCRAC). We recently used this technique to study the role of yeast RBPs in nutrient stress adaptation. This manuscript provides a detailed overview of the χCRAC method and presents recent results obtained with the Nrd1 RBP.

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