RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) collaborate to control virtually every aspect of RNA function. Tremendous progress has been made in the area of global assessment of RBP specificity using next-generation sequencing approaches both in vivo and in vitro. Understanding how protein-protein interactions enable precise combinatorial regulation of RNA remains a significant problem. Addressing this challenge requires tools that can quantitatively determine the specificities of both individual proteins and multimeric complexes in an unbiased and comprehensive way. One approach utilizes in vitro selection, high-throughput sequencing, and sequence-specificity landscapes (SEQRS). We outline a SEQRS experiment focused on obtaining the specificity of a multi-protein complex between Drosophila RBPs Pumilio (Pum) and Nanos (Nos). We discuss the necessary controls in this type of experiment and examine how the resulting data can be complemented with structural and cell-based reporter assays. Additionally, SEQRS data can be integrated with functional genomics data to uncover biological function. Finally, we propose extensions of the technique that will enhance our understanding of multi-protein regulatory complexes assembled onto RNA.
- Combinatorial control