Cell 1998 Apr 3;93(1):139-148
Department of Biological Sciences, Columbia University, New York, New York 10027, USA.
The RNA-binding protein Tra2 is an important regulator of sex determination in Drosophila. Recently, two mammalian Tra2 homologs of unknown function have been described. Here, we show that human Tra2 proteins are present in HeLa cell nuclear extracts and that they bind efficiently and specifically to a previously characterized pre-mRNA splicing enhancer element. Indeed, both purified proteins bound preferentially to RNA sequences containing GAA repeats, characteristic of many enhancer elements. Neither Tra2 protein functioned in constitutive splicing in vitro, but both activated enhancer-dependent splicing in a sequence-specific manner and restored it after inhibition with competitor RNA. Our findings indicate that mammalian Tra2 proteins are sequence-specific splicing activators that likely participate in the control of cell-specific splicing patterns.