- 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.
- The Bowen–Conradi syndrome protein Nep1 (Emg1) has a dual role in eukaryotic ribosome biogenesis, as an essential assembly factor and in the methylation of Psi1191 in yeast 18S rRNA (2010)
- The Nep1 (Emg1) SPOUT-class methyltransferase is an essential ribosome assembly factor and the human Bowen–Conradi syndrome (BCS) is caused by a specific Nep1D86G mutation. We recently showed in vitro that Methanocaldococcus jannaschii Nep1 is a sequence-specific pseudouridine-N1-methyltransferase. Here, we show that in yeast the in vivo target site for Nep1-catalyzed methylation is located within loop 35 of the 18S rRNA that contains the unique hypermodification of U1191 to 1-methyl-3-(3-amino-3-carboxypropyl)-pseudouri-dine (m1acp3Psi). Specific 14C-methionine labelling of 18S rRNA in yeast mutants showed that Nep1 is not required for acp-modification but suggested a function in Psi1191 methylation. ESI MS analysis of acp-modified Psi-nucleosides in a DeltaNep1-mutant showed that Nep1 catalyzes the Psi1191 methylation in vivo. Remarkably, the restored growth of a nep1-1ts mutant upon addition of S-adenosylmethionine was even observed after preventing U1191 methylation in a deltasnr35 mutant. This strongly suggests a dual Nep1 function, as Psi1191-methyltransferase and ribosome assembly factor. Interestingly, the Nep1 methyltransferase activity is not affected upon introduction of the BCS mutation. Instead, the mutated protein shows enhanced dimerization propensity and increased affinity for its RNA-target in vitro. Furthermore, the BCS mutation prevents nucleolar accumulation of Nep1, which could be the reason for reduced growth in yeast and the Bowen-Conradi syndrome.
- 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.
- The ribosome assembly factor Nep1 responsible for Bowen–Conradi syndrome is a pseudouridine-N1-specific methyltransferase (2010)
- Nep1 (Emg1) is a highly conserved nucleolar protein with an essential function in ribosome biogenesis. A mutation in the human Nep1 homolog causes Bowen–Conradi syndrome—a severe developmental disorder. Structures of Nep1 revealed a dimer with a fold similar to the SPOUT-class of RNA-methyltransferases suggesting that Nep1 acts as a methyltransferase in ribosome biogenesis. The target for this putative methyltransferase activity has not been identified yet. We characterized the RNA-binding specificity of Methanocaldococcus jannaschii Nep1 by fluorescence- and NMR-spectroscopy as well as by yeast three-hybrid screening. Nep1 binds with high affinity to short RNA oligonucleotides corresponding to nt 910–921 of M. jannaschii 16S rRNA through a highly conserved basic surface cleft along the dimer interface. Nep1 only methylates RNAs containing a pseudouridine at a position corresponding to a previously identified hypermodified N1-methyl-N3-(3-amino-3-carboxypropyl) pseudouridine (m1acp3-Psi) in eukaryotic 18S rRNAs. Analysis of the methylated nucleoside by MALDI-mass spectrometry, HPLC and NMR shows that the methyl group is transferred to the N1 of the pseudouridine. Thus, Nep1 is the first identified example of an N1-specific pseudouridine methyltransferase. This enzymatic activity is also conserved in human Nep1 suggesting that Nep1 is the methyltransferase in the biosynthesis of m1acp3-Psi in eukaryotic 18S rRNAs.