- Structural and functional analysis of the archaeal endonuclease Nob1 (2011)
- Eukaryotic ribosome biogenesis requires the concerted action of numerous ribosome assembly factors, for most of which structural and functional information is currently lacking. Nob1, which can be identified in eukaryotes and archaea, is required for the final maturation of the small subunit ribosomal RNA in yeast by catalyzing cleavage at site D after export of the preribosomal subunit into the cytoplasm. Here, we show that this also holds true for Nob1 from the archaeon Pyrococcus horikoshii, which efficiently cleaves RNA-substrates containing the D-site of the preribosomal RNA in a manganese-dependent manner. The structure of PhNob1 solved by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy revealed a PIN domain common with many nucleases and a zinc ribbon domain, which are structurally connected by a flexible linker. We show that amino acid residues required for substrate binding reside in the PIN domain whereas the zinc ribbon domain alone is sufficient to bind helix 40 of the small subunit rRNA. This suggests that the zinc ribbon domain acts as an anchor point for the protein on the nascent subunit positioning it in the proximity of the cleavage site.
- Mechanistic insights into an engineered riboswitch: a switching element which confers riboswitch activity (2010)
- While many different RNA aptamers have been identified that bind to a plethora of small molecules only very few are capable of acting as engineered riboswitches. Even for aptamers binding the same ligand large differences in their regulatory potential were observed. We address here the molecular basis for these differences by using a set of unrelated neomycin-binding aptamers. UV melting analyses showed that regulating aptamers are thermally stabilized to a significantly higher degree upon ligand binding than inactive ones. Regulating aptamers show high ligand-binding affinity in the low nanomolar range which is necessary but not sufficient for regulation. NMR data showed that a destabilized, open ground state accompanied by extensive structural changes upon ligand binding is important for regulation. In contrast, inactive aptamers are already pre-formed in the absence of the ligand. By a combination of genetic, biochemical and structural analyses, we identified a switching element responsible for destabilizing the ligand free state without compromising the bound form. Our results explain for the first time the molecular mechanism of an engineered riboswitch.
- Recognition of two distinct elements in the RNA substrate by the RNA-binding domain of the T. thermophilus DEAD box helicase Hera (2013)
- DEAD box helicases catalyze the ATP-dependent destabilization of RNA duplexes. Whereas duplex separation is mediated by the helicase core shared by all members of the family, flanking domains often contribute to binding of the RNA substrate. The Thermus thermophilus DEAD-box helicase Hera (for “heat-resistant RNA-binding ATPase”) contains a C-terminal RNA-binding domain (RBD). We have analyzed RNA binding to the Hera RBD by a combination of mutational analyses, nuclear magnetic resonance and X-ray crystallography, and identify residues on helix α1 and the C-terminus as the main determinants for high-affinity RNA binding. A crystal structure of the RBD in complex with a single-stranded RNA resolves the RNA–protein interactions in the RBD core region around helix α1. Differences in RNA binding to the Hera RBD and to the structurally similar RBD of the Bacillus subtilis DEAD box helicase YxiN illustrate the versatility of RNA recognition motifs as RNA-binding platforms. Comparison of chemical shift perturbation patterns elicited by different RNAs, and the effect of sequence changes in the RNA on binding and unwinding show that the RBD binds a single-stranded RNA region at the core and simultaneously contacts double-stranded RNA through its C-terminal tail. The helicase core then unwinds an adjacent RNA duplex. Overall, the mode of RNA binding by Hera is consistent with a possible function as a general RNA chaperone.
- Influence of ground-state structure and Mg2+ binding on folding kinetics of the guanine-sensing riboswitch aptamer domain (2011)
- Riboswitch RNAs fold into complex tertiary structures upon binding to their cognate ligand. Ligand recognition is accomplished by key residues in the binding pocket. In addition, it often crucially depends on the stability of peripheral structural elements. The ligand-bound complex of the guanine-sensing riboswitch from Bacillus subtilis, for example, is stabilized by extensive interactions between apical loop regions of the aptamer domain. Previously, we have shown that destabilization of this tertiary loop–loop interaction abrogates ligand binding of the G37A/C61U-mutant aptamer domain (Gswloop) in the absence of Mg2+. However, if Mg2+ is available, ligand-binding capability is restored by a population shift of the ground-state RNA ensemble toward RNA conformations with pre-formed loop–loop interactions. Here, we characterize the striking influence of long-range tertiary structure on RNA folding kinetics and on ligand-bound complex structure, both by X-ray crystallography and time-resolved NMR. The X-ray structure of the ligand-bound complex reveals that the global architecture is almost identical to the wild-type aptamer domain. The population of ligand-binding competent conformations in the ground-state ensemble of Gswloop is tunable through variation of the Mg2+ concentration. We quantitatively describe the influence of distinct Mg2+ concentrations on ligand-induced folding trajectories both by equilibrium and time-resolved NMR spectroscopy at single-residue resolution.