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Mol Cell Biol. 1997 March; 17(3): 1354–1365.
PMCID: PMC231860

Dbp3p, a putative RNA helicase in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, is required for efficient pre-rRNA processing predominantly at site A3.


In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, ribosomal biogenesis takes place primarily in the nucleolus, in which a single 35S precursor rRNA (pre-rRNA) is first transcribed and sequentially processed into 25S, 5.8S, and 18S mature rRNAs, leading to the formation of the 40S and 60S ribosomal subunits. Although many components involved in this process have been identified, our understanding of this important cellular process remains limited. Here we report that one of the evolutionarily conserved DEAD-box protein genes in yeast, DBP3, is required for optimal ribosomal biogenesis. DBP3 encodes a putative RNA helicase, Dbp3p, of 523 amino acids in length, which bears a highly charged amino terminus consisting of 10 tandem lysine-lysine-X repeats ([KKX] repeats). Disruption of DBP3 is not lethal but yields a slow-growth phenotype. This genetic depletion of Dbp3p results in a deficiency of 60S ribosomal subunits and a delayed synthesis of the mature 25S rRNA, which is caused by a prominent kinetic delay in pre-rRNA processing at site A3 and to a lesser extent at sites A2 and A0. These data suggest that Dbp3p may directly or indirectly facilitate RNase MRP cleavage at site A3. The direct involvement of Dbp3p in ribosomal biogenesis is supported by the finding that Dbp3p is localized predominantly in the nucleolus. In addition, we show that the [KKX] repeats are dispensable for Dbp3p's function in ribosomal biogenesis but are required for its proper localization. The [KKX] repeats thus represent a novel signaling motif for nuclear localization and/or retention.

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