The processing of heterogeneous nuclear RNA into messenger RNA takes place in special nuclear ribonucleoprotein particles known as hnRNP. We report here the identification of proteins tightly complexed with poly(A)+ hnRNA in intact HeLa cells, as revealed by a novel in situ RNA-protein cross-linking technique. The set of cross-linked proteins includes the A, B, and C "core" hnRNP proteins, as well as the greater than 42,000 mol wt species previously identified in noncross-linked hnRNP. These proteins are shown to be cross-linked by virtue of remaining bound to the poly(A)+ hnRNA in the presence of 0.5% sodium dodecyl sulfate, 0.5 M NaCl, and 60% formamide, during subsequent oligo(dT)-cellulose chromatography, and in isopycnic banding in Cs2SO4 density gradients. These results establish that poly(A)+ hnRNA is in direct contact with a moderately complex set of nuclear proteins in vivo. This not only eliminates earlier models of hnRNP structure that were based upon the concept of a single protein component but also suggests that these proteins actively participate in modulating hnRNA structure and processing in the cell.

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