Soon a special issue with focus on ‘RNA biology in physiology and disease’ will be published by the European Journal of Physiology (Pflügers Archiv). Together with our colleagues Benedikt Beckmann (IRI for the Life Sciences, Humboldt University Berlin) and Alfredo Castello (University of Oxford) we have contributed a review article entitled: The expanding universe of ribonucleoproteins – of novel RNA-binding proteins and unconventional interactions.
We focus on the recent advances in the identification of novel RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) and the unexpected finding that many of the novel RBPs do not contain identifiable RNA-binding domains (RBDs), raising the question of how they interact with RNA. It is surprising that despite the many functions that have been attributed to RNA, our understanding of ribonucleoproteins (RNPs) is still mostly governed by a rather protein-centric view, leading to the idea that proteins have evolved to bind to and regulate RNA and not vice versa. However, RNPs formed by an RNA-driven interaction mechanism (‘RNA-determined RNPs’) are abundant and offer an alternative explanation for the surprising lack of ‘classical’ RBDs in many RNA-interacting proteins (which we discuss in detail in the review article).