The aggregation of RNA-binding proteins is a pathological hallmark of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD). RBM45 is an RNA-binding protein that forms cytoplasmic inclusions in neurons and glia in ALS and FTLD. To explore the role of RBM45 in ALS and FTLD, we examined the contribution of the protein's domains to its function, subcellular localization, and interaction with itself and ALS-linked proteins. We find that RBM45 forms homo-oligomers and physically associates with the ALS-linked proteins TDP-43 and FUS in the nucleus. Nuclear localization of RBM45 is mediated by a bipartite nuclear-localization sequence (NLS) located at the C-terminus. RBM45 mutants that lack a functional NLS accumulate in the cytoplasm and form TDP-43 positive stress granules. Moreover, we identify a novel structural element, termed the homo-oligomer assembly (HOA) domain, that is highly conserved across species and promote homo-oligomerization of RBM45. RBM45 mutants that fail to form homo-oligomers exhibit significantly reduced association with ALS-linked proteins and inclusion into stress granules. These results show that RMB45 may function as a homo-oligomer and that its oligomerization contributes to ALS/FTLD RNA-binding protein aggregation.
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