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1.  Solution Structure of Pfu RPP21, a Component of the Archaeal RNase P Holoenzyme, and Interactions with its RPP29 Protein Partner 
Biochemistry  2008;47(45):11704-11710.
RNase P is the ubiquitous ribonucleoprotein metalloenzyme responsible for cleaving the 5′-leader sequence of precursor tRNAs during their maturation. While the RNA subunit is catalytically active on its own at high monovalent and divalent ion concentration, four proteins subunits are associated with archaeal RNase P activity in vivo: RPP21, RPP29, RPP30 and POP5. These proteins have been shown to function in pairs: RPP21-RPP29 and POP5-RPP30. We have determined the solution structure of RPP21 from the hyperthermophilic archaeon Pyrococcus furiosus (Pfu) using conventional and paramagnetic NMR techniques. Pfu RPP21 in solution consists of an unstructured N-terminus, two alpha helices, a zinc binding motif, and an unstructured C-terminus. Moreover, we have used chemical shift perturbations to characterize the interaction of RPP21 with Pfu RPP29. The data show that the primary contact with RPP29 is localized to the two helices of RPP21. This information represents a fundamental step towards understanding structure-function relationships of the archaeal RNase P holoenzyme.
PMCID: PMC2650222  PMID: 18922021
2.  Thermodynamics of Coupled Folding in the Interaction of Archaeal RNase P Proteins RPP21 and RPP29 
Biochemistry  2012;51(4):926-935.
We have used isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC) to identify and describe binding-coupled equilibria in the interaction between two protein subunits of archaeal ribonuclease P (RNase P). In all three domains of life, RNase P is a ribonucleoprotein complex that is primarily responsible for catalyzing the Mg2+-dependent cleavage of the 5′ leader sequence of precursor tRNAs during tRNA maturation. In archaea, RNase P has been shown to be composed of one catalytic RNA and up to five proteins, four of which associate in the absence of RNA as two functional heterodimers, POP5-RPP30 and RPP21-RPP29. NMR studies of the Pyrococcus furiosus RPP21 and RPP29 proteins in their free and complexed states provided evidence for significant protein folding upon binding. ITC experiments were performed over a range of temperatures, ionic strengths, pH values and in buffers with varying ionization potential, and with a folding-deficient RPP21 point mutant. These experiments revealed a negative heat capacity change (ΔCp), nearly twice that predicted from surface accessibility calculations, a strong salt dependence to the interaction and proton release at neutral pH, but a small net contribution from these to the excess ΔCp. We considered potential contributions from protein folding and burial of interfacial water molecules based on structural and spectroscopic data. We conclude that binding-coupled protein folding is likely responsible for a significant portion of the excess ΔCp. These findings provide novel structural-thermodynamic insights into coupled equilibria that enable specificity in macromolecular assemblies.
PMCID: PMC3964601  PMID: 22243443
3.  Solution Structure of an Archaeal RNase P Binary Protein Complex. Formation of the 30-kDa Complex Between Pyrococcus furiosus RPP21 and RPP29 is Accompanied by Coupled Protein Folding, and Highlights Critical Features for Protein-Protein and Protein-RNA Interactions 
Journal of molecular biology  2009;393(5):1043-1055.
RNase P is a ribonucleoprotein (RNP) enzyme that catalyzes the Mg2+-dependent 5’ maturation of precursor tRNAs. In all domains of life, it is a ribozyme: the RNase P RNA (RPR) component has been demonstrated to be responsible for catalysis. However, the number of RNase P protein subunits (RPPs) varies from one in bacteria to nine or ten in eukarya. The archaeal RPR is associated with at least four RPPs, which function in pairs (RPP21–RPP29 and RPP30-POP5). We used solution NMR spectroscopy to determine the three-dimensional structure of the protein-protein complex comprising Pyrococcus furiosus (Pfu) RPP21 and RPP29. We found that the protein-protein interaction is characterized by coupled folding of secondary structural elements that participate in interface formation. In addition to detailing the intermolecular contacts that stabilize this 30-kDa binary complex, the structure identifies surfaces rich in conserved basic residues likely vital for recognition of the RPR and/or precursor tRNA. Furthermore, enzymatic footprinting experiments allowed us to localize the RPP21–RPP29 complex to the specificity domain of the RPR. These findings provide valuable new insights into mechanisms of RNP assembly and serve as important steps towards a three-dimensional model of this ancient RNP enzyme.
PMCID: PMC2782587  PMID: 19733182
4.  Cleavage of model substrates by archaeal RNase P: role of protein cofactors in cleavage-site selection 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;39(3):1105-1116.
RNase P is a catalytic ribonucleoprotein primarily involved in tRNA biogenesis. Archaeal RNase P comprises a catalytic RNase P RNA (RPR) and at least four protein cofactors (RPPs), which function as two binary complexes (POP5•RPP30 and RPP21• RPP29). Exploiting the ability to assemble a functional Pyrococcus furiosus (Pfu) RNase P in vitro, we examined the role of RPPs in influencing substrate recognition by the RPR. We first demonstrate that Pfu RPR, like its bacterial and eukaryal counterparts, cleaves model hairpin loop substrates albeit at rates 90- to 200-fold lower when compared with cleavage by bacterial RPR, highlighting the functionally comparable catalytic cores in bacterial and archaeal RPRs. By investigating cleavage-site selection exhibited by Pfu RPR (±RPPs) with various model substrates missing consensus-recognition elements, we determined substrate features whose recognition is facilitated by either POP5•RPP30 or RPP21•RPP29 (directly or indirectly via the RPR). Our results also revealed that Pfu RPR + RPP21•RPP29 displays substrate-recognition properties coinciding with those of the bacterial RPR-alone reaction rather than the Pfu RPR, and that this behaviour is attributable to structural differences in the substrate-specificity domains of bacterial and archaeal RPRs. Moreover, our data reveal a hierarchy in recognition elements that dictates cleavage-site selection by archaeal RNase P.
PMCID: PMC3035440  PMID: 20935047
5.  Mutual interactions between subunits of the human RNase MRP ribonucleoprotein complex 
Nucleic Acids Research  2004;32(7):2138-2146.
The eukaryotic ribonuclease for mitochondrial RNA processing (RNase MRP) is mainly located in the nucleoli and belongs to the small nucleolar ribonucleoprotein (snoRNP) particles. RNase MRP is involved in the processing of pre-rRNA and the generation of RNA primers for mitochondrial DNA replication. A closely related snoRNP, which shares protein subunits with RNase MRP and contains a structurally related RNA subunit, is the pre-tRNA processing factor RNase P. Up to now, 10 protein subunits of these complexes have been described, designated hPop1, hPop4, hPop5, Rpp14, Rpp20, Rpp21, Rpp25, Rpp30, Rpp38 and Rpp40. To get more insight into the assembly of the human RNase MRP complex we studied protein–protein and protein–RNA interactions by means of GST pull-down experiments. A total of 19 direct protein–protein and six direct protein–RNA interactions were observed. The analysis of mutant RNase MRP RNAs showed that distinct regions are involved in the direct interaction with protein subunits. The results provide insight into the way the protein and RNA subunits assemble into a ribonucleoprotein particle. Based upon these data a new model for the architecture of the human RNase MRP complex was generated.
PMCID: PMC407822  PMID: 15096576
6.  Cooperative RNP assembly: Complementary rescue of structural defects by protein and RNA subunits of archaeal RNase P 
Journal of molecular biology  2011;411(2):368-383.
RNase P is a ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complex that utilizes a Mg2+-dependent RNA catalyst to cleave the 5′-leader of precursor tRNAs (pre-tRNAs) and generate mature tRNAs. The bacterial RNase P protein (RPP) aids RNase P RNA (RPR) catalysis by promoting substrate binding, Mg2+ coordination, and product release. Archaeal RNase P comprises an RPR and at least four RPPs, which have eukaryal homologs and function as two binary complexes (POP5•RPP30 and RPP21•RPP29). In this study, we employed a previously characterized substrate-enzyme conjugate [pre-tRNATyr-Methanocaldococcus jannaschii (Mja) RPR] to investigate the functional role of a universally conserved uridine in a bulge-helix structure in archaeal RPRs. Deletion of this bulged uridine resulted in an 80-fold decrease in the self-cleavage rate of pre-tRNATyr-MjaΔU RPR compared to the wildtype, and this defect was partially ameliorated upon addition of either RPP pair. The catalytic defect in the archaeal mutant RPR mirrors that reported in a bacterial RPR and highlights a parallel in their active sites. Furthermore, an N-terminal deletion mutant of Pyrococcus furiosus (Pfu) RPP29 that is defective in assembling with its binary partner RPP21, as assessed by isothermal titration calorimetry and NMR spectroscopy, is functional when reconstituted with the cognate Pfu RPR. Collectively, these results indicate that archaeal RPPs are able to compensate for structural defects in their cognate RPR and vice-versa, and provide striking examples of the cooperative subunit interactions critical for driving archaeal RNase P towards its functional conformation. (236 words)
PMCID: PMC3143260  PMID: 21683084
pre-tRNA processing; in vitro reconstitution; mutational rescue
7.  Fidelity of tRNA 5′-maturation: a possible basis for the functional dependence of archaeal and eukaryal RNase P on multiple protein cofactors 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;40(10):4666-4680.
RNase P, which catalyzes tRNA 5′-maturation, typically comprises a catalytic RNase P RNA (RPR) and a varying number of RNase P proteins (RPPs): 1 in bacteria, at least 4 in archaea and 9 in eukarya. The four archaeal RPPs have eukaryotic homologs and function as heterodimers (POP5•RPP30 and RPP21•RPP29). By studying the archaeal Methanocaldococcus jannaschii RPR's cis cleavage of precursor tRNAGln (pre-tRNAGln), which lacks certain consensus structures/sequences needed for substrate recognition, we demonstrate that RPP21•RPP29 and POP5•RPP30 can rescue the RPR's mis-cleavage tendency independently by 4-fold and together by 25-fold, suggesting that they operate by distinct mechanisms. This synergistic and preferential shift toward correct cleavage results from the ability of archaeal RPPs to selectively increase the RPR's apparent rate of correct cleavage by 11 140-fold, compared to only 480-fold for mis-cleavage. Moreover, POP5•RPP30, like the bacterial RPP, helps normalize the RPR's rates of cleavage of non-consensus and consensus pre-tRNAs. We also show that archaeal and eukaryal RNase P, compared to their bacterial relatives, exhibit higher fidelity of 5′-maturation of pre-tRNAGln and some of its mutant derivatives. Our results suggest that protein-rich RNase P variants might have evolved to support flexibility in substrate recognition while catalyzing efficient, high-fidelity 5′-processing.
PMCID: PMC3378863  PMID: 22298511
8.  Dissecting functional cooperation among protein subunits in archaeal RNase P, a catalytic ribonucleoprotein complex 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;38(22):8316-8327.
RNase P catalyzes the Mg2+-dependent 5′-maturation of precursor tRNAs. Biochemical studies on the bacterial holoenzyme, composed of one catalytic RNase P RNA (RPR) and one RNase P protein (RPP), have helped understand the pleiotropic roles (including substrate/Mg2+ binding) by which a protein could facilitate RNA catalysis. As a model for uncovering the functional coordination among multiple proteins that aid an RNA catalyst, we use archaeal RNase P, which comprises one catalytic RPR and at least four RPPs. Exploiting our previous finding that these archaeal RPPs function as two binary RPP complexes (POP5•RPP30 and RPP21•RPP29), we prepared recombinant RPP pairs from three archaea and established interchangeability of subunits through homologous/heterologous assemblies. Our finding that archaeal POP5•RPP30 reconstituted with bacterial and organellar RPRs suggests functional overlap of this binary complex with the bacterial RPP and highlights their shared recognition of a phylogenetically-conserved RPR catalytic core, whose minimal attributes we further defined through deletion mutagenesis. Moreover, single-turnover kinetic studies revealed that while POP5•RPP30 is solely responsible for enhancing the RPR’s rate of precursor tRNA cleavage (by 60-fold), RPP21•RPP29 contributes to increased substrate affinity (by 16-fold). Collectively, these studies provide new perspectives on the functioning and evolution of an ancient, catalytic ribonucleoprotein.
PMCID: PMC3001054  PMID: 20705647
9.  RNA binding properties of conserved protein subunits of human RNase P 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;39(13):5704-5714.
Human nuclear RNase P is required for transcription and processing of tRNA. This catalytic RNP has an H1 RNA moiety associated with ten distinct protein subunits. Five (Rpp20, Rpp21, Rpp25, Rpp29 and Pop5) out of eight of these protein subunits, prepared in refolded recombinant forms, bind to H1 RNA in vitro. Rpp20 and Rpp25 bind jointly to H1 RNA, even though each protein can interact independently with this transcript. Nuclease footprinting analysis reveals that Rpp20 and Rpp25 recognize overlapping regions in the P2 and P3 domains of H1 RNA. Rpp21 and Rpp29, which are sufficient for reconstitution of the endonucleolytic activity, bind to separate regions in the catalytic domain of H1 RNA. Common themes and discrepancies in the RNA-protein interactions between human nuclear RNase P and its related yeast and archaeal counterparts provide a rationale for the assembly of the fully active form of this enzyme.
PMCID: PMC3141246  PMID: 21450806
10.  Heterodimerization of the human RNase P/MRP subunits Rpp20 and Rpp25 is a prerequisite for interaction with the P3 arm of RNase MRP RNA 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;38(12):4052-4066.
Rpp20 and Rpp25 are two key subunits of the human endoribonucleases RNase P and MRP. Formation of an Rpp20–Rpp25 complex is critical for enzyme function and sub-cellular localization. We present the first detailed in vitro analysis of their conformational properties, and a biochemical and biophysical characterization of their mutual interaction and RNA recognition. This study specifically examines the role of the Rpp20/Rpp25 association in the formation of the ribonucleoprotein complex. The interaction of the individual subunits with the P3 arm of the RNase MRP RNA is revealed to be negligible whereas the 1:1 Rpp20:Rpp25 complex binds to the same target with an affinity of the order of nM. These results unambiguously demonstrate that Rpp20 and Rpp25 interact with the P3 RNA as a heterodimer, which is formed prior to RNA binding. This creates a platform for the design of future experiments aimed at a better understanding of the function and organization of RNase P and MRP. Finally, analyses of interactions with deletion mutant proteins constructed with successively shorter N- and C-terminal sequences indicate that the Alba-type core domain of both Rpp20 and Rpp25 contains most of the determinants for mutual association and P3 RNA recognition.
PMCID: PMC2896528  PMID: 20215441
11.  Localization in the Nucleolus and Coiled Bodies of Protein Subunits of the Ribonucleoprotein Ribonuclease P 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1999;146(3):559-572.
The precise location of the tRNA processing ribonucleoprotein ribonuclease P (RNase P) and the mechanism of its intranuclear distribution have not been completely delineated. We show that three protein subunits of human RNase P (Rpp), Rpp14, Rpp29 and Rpp38, are found in the nucleolus and that each can localize a reporter protein to nucleoli of cells in tissue culture. In contrast to Rpp38, which is uniformly distributed in nucleoli, Rpp14 and Rpp29 are confined to the dense fibrillar component. Rpp29 and Rpp38 possess functional, yet distinct domains required for subnucleolar localization. The subunit Rpp14 lacks such a domain and appears to be dependent on a piggyback process to reach the nucleolus. Biochemical analysis suggests that catalytically active RNase P exists in the nucleolus. We also provide evidence that Rpp29 and Rpp38 reside in coiled bodies, organelles that are implicated in the biogenesis of several other small nuclear ribonucleoproteins required for processing of precursor mRNA. Because some protein subunits of RNase P are shared by the ribosomal RNA processing ribonucleoprotein RNase MRP, these two evolutionary related holoenzymes may share common intranuclear localization and assembly pathways to coordinate the processing of tRNA and rRNA precursors.
PMCID: PMC2150555  PMID: 10444065
coiled body; nucleolus; RNase mitochondrial RNA processing; ribonuclease P; tRNA
12.  Studies on Methanocaldococcus jannaschii RNase P reveal insights into the roles of RNA and protein cofactors in RNase P catalysis 
Nucleic Acids Research  2008;36(12):4172-4180.
Ribonuclease P (RNase P), a ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complex required for tRNA maturation, comprises one essential RNA (RPR) and protein subunits (RPPs) numbering one in bacteria, and at least four in archaea and nine in eukarya. While the bacterial RPR is catalytically active in vitro, only select euryarchaeal and eukaryal RPRs are weakly active despite secondary structure similarity and conservation of nucleotide identity in their putative catalytic core. Such a decreased archaeal/eukaryal RPR function might imply that their cognate RPPs provide the functional groups that make up the active site. However, substrate-binding defects might mask the ability of some of these RPRs, such as that from the archaeon Methanocaldococcus jannaschii (Mja), to catalyze precursor tRNA (ptRNA) processing. To test this hypothesis, we constructed a ptRNA-Mja RPR conjugate and found that indeed it self-cleaves efficiently (kobs, 0.15 min−1 at pH 5.5 and 55°C). Moreover, one pair of Mja RPPs (POP5-RPP30) enhanced kobs for the RPR-catalyzed self-processing by ∼100-fold while the other pair (RPP21-RPP29) had no effect; both binary RPP complexes significantly reduced the monovalent and divalent ionic requirement. Our results suggest a common RNA-mediated catalytic mechanism in all RNase P and help uncover parallels in RNase P catalysis hidden by plurality in its subunit make-up.
PMCID: PMC2475606  PMID: 18558617
13.  Inventory and analysis of the protein subunits of the ribonucleases P and MRP provides further evidence of homology between the yeast and human enzymes 
Nucleic Acids Research  2006;34(18):5145-5156.
The RNases P and MRP are involved in tRNA and rRNA processing, respectively. Both enzymes in eukaryotes are composed of an RNA molecule and 9–12 protein subunits. Most of the protein subunits are shared between RNases P and MRP. We have here performed a computational analysis of the protein subunits in a broad range of eukaryotic organisms using profile-based searches and phylogenetic methods. A number of novel homologues were identified, giving rise to a more complete inventory of RNase P/MRP proteins. We present evidence of a relationship between fungal Pop8 and the protein subunit families Rpp14/Pop5 as well as between fungal Pop6 and metazoan Rpp25. These relationships further emphasize a structural and functional similarity between the yeast and human P/MRP complexes. We have also identified novel P and MRP RNAs and analysis of all available sequences revealed a K-turn motif in a large number of these RNAs. We suggest that this motif is a binding site for the Pop3/Rpp38 proteins and we discuss other structural features of the RNA subunit and possible relationships to the protein subunit repertoire.
PMCID: PMC1636426  PMID: 16998185
14.  Basic Domains Target Protein Subunits of the RNase MRP Complex to the Nucleolus Independently of Complex Association 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2001;12(11):3680-3689.
The RNase MRP and RNase P ribonucleoprotein particles both function as endoribonucleases, have a similar RNA component, and share several protein subunits. RNase MRP has been implicated in pre-rRNA processing and mitochondrial DNA replication, whereas RNase P functions in pre-tRNA processing. Both RNase MRP and RNase P accumulate in the nucleolus of eukaryotic cells. In this report we show that for three protein subunits of the RNase MRP complex (hPop1, hPop4, and Rpp38) basic domains are responsible for their nucleolar accumulation and that they are able to accumulate in the nucleolus independently of their association with the RNase MRP and RNase P complexes. We also show that certain mutants of hPop4 accumulate in the Cajal bodies, suggesting that hPop4 traverses through these bodies to the nucleolus. Furthermore, we characterized a deletion mutant of Rpp38 that preferentially associates with the RNase MRP complex, giving a first clue about the difference in protein composition of the human RNase MRP and RNase P complexes. On the basis of all available data on nucleolar localization sequences, we hypothesize that nucleolar accumulation of proteins containing basic domains proceeds by diffusion and retention rather than by an active transport process. The existence of nucleolar localization sequences is discussed.
PMCID: PMC60285  PMID: 11694598
15.  Differences in autoantibody response to Th/To between systemic sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2002;61(9):842-846.
Methods: Serum samples from 1048 Japanese patients with various autoimmune diseases were screened for anti-Th/To antibodies using RNA and protein immunoprecipitation assays. The reactivity to RNase P subunits was examined by immunoprecipitating 35S labelled recombinant Rpp38, Rpp30, and hPop1 produced by in vitro transcription and translation. HLA-DRB1, DQB1, and DPB1 alleles were identified using a polymerase chain reaction followed by a restriction fragment length polymorphism assay.
Results: Serum anti-Th/To antibodies were detected in 14 of 303 patients with SSc and seven of 745 patients without SSc (4.6% v 0.9%; p=0.0003). Similar percentages of patients with and without SSc showed immunoreactivity to Rpp38 and Rpp30, but more patients with SSc than patients without SSc showed a reactivity to hPop1 (93% v 14%; p=0.002). In patients with anti-Th/To antibodies DRB1*1502 or *0802 was detected more often, and the DRB1*0405-DQB1*0401 haplotype less often in patients with SSc than in patients without SSc (79% v 14%, p=0.02, and 7% v 71%, p=0.01, respectively).
Conclusions: Anti-Th/To antibodies were detected in a small proportion of autoimmune patients lacking clinical features related to SSc. A close relationship between disease expression and anti-hPop1 reactivity as well as HLA class II alleles in anti-Th/To positive patients suggests that the process of anti-Th/To antibody production may be different between patients with and those without SSc.
PMCID: PMC1754228  PMID: 12176814
16.  Alterations in the intracellular level of a protein subunit of human RNase P affect processing of tRNA precursors 
Nucleic Acids Research  2003;31(16):4836-4846.
The human ribonucleoprotein ribonuclease P (RNase P), processing tRNA, has at least 10 distinct protein subunits. Many of these subunits, including the autoimmune antigen Rpp38, are shared by RNase MRP, a ribonucleoprotein enzyme required for processing of rRNA. We here show that constitutive expression of exogenous, tagged Rpp38 protein in HeLa cells affects processing of tRNA precursors. Alterations in the site-specific cleavage and in the steady-state level of 3′ sequences of the internal transcribed spacer 1 of rRNA are also observed. These processing defects are accompanied by selective shut-off of expression of Rpp38 and by low expression of the tagged protein. RNase P purified from these cells exhibits impaired activity in vitro. Moreover, inhibition of Rpp38 by the use of small interfering RNA causes accumulation of the initiator methionine tRNA precursor. Expression of other protein components, but not of the H1 RNA subunit, is coordinately inhibited. Our results reveal that normal expression of Rpp38 is required for the biosynthesis of intact RNase P and for the normal processing of stable RNA in human cells.
PMCID: PMC169977  PMID: 12907726
17.  The ancient history of the structure of ribonuclease P and the early origins of Archaea 
BMC Bioinformatics  2010;11:153.
Ribonuclease P is an ancient endonuclease that cleaves precursor tRNA and generally consists of a catalytic RNA subunit (RPR) and one or more proteins (RPPs). It represents an important macromolecular complex and model system that is universally distributed in life. Its putative origins have inspired fundamental hypotheses, including the proposal of an ancient RNA world.
To study the evolution of this complex, we constructed rooted phylogenetic trees of RPR molecules and substructures and estimated RPP age using a cladistic method that embeds structure directly into phylogenetic analysis. The general approach was used previously to study the evolution of tRNA, SINE RNA and 5S rRNA, the origins of metabolism, and the evolution and complexity of the protein world, and revealed here remarkable evolutionary patterns. Trees of molecules uncovered the tripartite nature of life and the early origin of archaeal RPRs. Trees of substructures showed molecules originated in stem P12 and were accessorized with a catalytic P1-P4 core structure before the first substructure was lost in Archaea. This core currently interacts with RPPs and ancient segments of the tRNA molecule. Finally, a census of protein domain structure in hundreds of genomes established RPPs appeared after the rise of metabolic enzymes at the onset of the protein world.
The study provides a detailed account of the history and early diversification of a fundamental ribonucleoprotein and offers further evidence in support of the existence of a tripartite organismal world that originated by the segregation of archaeal lineages from an ancient community of primordial organisms.
PMCID: PMC2858038  PMID: 20334683
18.  RNase P: role of distinct protein cofactors in tRNA substrate recognition and RNA-based catalysis 
Nucleic Acids Research  2005;33(16):5120-5132.
The Escherichia coli ribonuclease P (RNase P) has a protein component, termed C5, which acts as a cofactor for the catalytic M1 RNA subunit that processes the 5′ leader sequence of precursor tRNA. Rpp29, a conserved protein subunit of human RNase P, can substitute for C5 protein in reconstitution assays of M1 RNA activity. To better understand the role of the former protein, we compare the mode of action of Rpp29 to that of the C5 protein in activation of M1 RNA. Enzyme kinetic analyses reveal that complexes of M1 RNA–Rpp29 and M1 RNA–C5 exhibit comparable binding affinities to precursor tRNA but different catalytic efficiencies. High concentrations of substrate impede the activity of the former complex. Rpp29 itself exhibits high affinity in substrate binding, which seems to reduce the catalytic efficiency of the reconstituted ribonucleoprotein. Rpp29 has a conserved C-terminal domain with an Sm-like fold that mediates interaction with M1 RNA and precursor tRNA and can activate M1 RNA. The results suggest that distinct protein folds in two unrelated protein cofactors can facilitate transition from RNA- to ribonucleoprotein-based catalysis by RNase P.
PMCID: PMC1201335  PMID: 16155184
19.  Expression, purification and structural analysis of the Pyrococcus abyssi RNA binding protein PAB1135 
BMC Research Notes  2010;3:97.
The gene coding for the uncharacterized protein PAB1135 in the archaeon Pyrococcus abyssi is in the same operon as the ribonuclease P (RNase P) subunit Rpp30.
Here we report the expression, purification and structural analysis of PAB1135. We analyzed the interaction of PAB1135 with RNA and show that it binds efficiently double-stranded RNAs in a non-sequence specific manner. We also performed molecular modeling of the PAB1135 structure using the crystal structure of the protein Af2318 from Archaeoglobus fulgidus (2OGK) as the template.
Comparison of this model has lead to the identification of a region in PAB1135 that could be involved in recognizing double-stranded RNA.
PMCID: PMC2872656  PMID: 20380716
20.  The two faces of Alba: the evolutionary connection between proteins participating in chromatin structure and RNA metabolism 
Genome Biology  2003;4(10):R64.
The Alba superfamily of chromosomal proteins appear to have originated as RNA-binding proteins and to have been recruited to chromosomes possibly only within the crenarchaeal lineage.
There is considerable heterogeneity in the phyletic patterns of major chromosomal DNA-binding proteins in archaea. Alba is a well-characterized chromosomal protein from the crenarchaeal genus Sulfolobus. While Alba has been detected in most archaea and some eukaryotic taxa, its exact functions in these taxa are not clear. Here we use comparative genomics and sequence profile analysis to predict potential alternative functions of the Alba proteins.
Using sequence-profile searches, we were able to unify the Alba proteins with RNase P/MRP subunit Rpp20/Pop7, human RNase P subunit Rpp25, and the ciliate Mdp2 protein, which is implicated in macronuclear development. The Alba superfamily contains two eukaryote-specific families and one archaeal family. We present different lines of evidence to show that both eukaryotic families perform functions related to RNA metabolism. Several members of one of the eukaryotic families, typified by Mdp2, are combined in the same polypeptide with RNA-binding RGG repeats. We also investigated the relationships of the unified Alba superfamily within the ancient RNA-binding IF3-C fold, and show that it is most closely related to other RNA-binding members of this fold, such as the YhbY and IF3-C superfamilies. Based on phyletic patterns and the principle of phylogenetic bracketing, we predict that at least some of the archaeal members may also possess a role in RNA metabolism.
The Alba superfamily proteins appear to have originated as RNA-binding proteins which formed various ribonucleoprotein complexes, probably including RNase P. It was recruited as a chromosomal protein possibly only within the crenarchaeal lineage. The evolutionary connections reported here suggest how a diversity of functions based on a common biochemical basis emerged in proteins of the Alba superfamily.
PMCID: PMC328453  PMID: 14519199
21.  Rpp25 is a major target of autoantibodies to the Th/To complex as measured by a novel chemiluminescent assay 
Autoantibodies to the Th/To antigen have been described in systemic sclerosis (SSc) and several proteins of the macromolecular Th/To complex have been reported to react with anti-Th/To antibodies. However, anti-Th/To has not been clinically utilized due to unavailability of commercial tests. The objective of the present study is to evaluate the newly developed ELISA and chemiluminescent immunoassay (CLIA) to measure autoantibodies to Rpp25 (a component of the Th/To complex) using immunoprecipitation (IP) as the reference method.
The first cohort consisted of 123 SSc patients including 7 anti-Th/To positive samples confirmed by IP. Additional seven anti-Th/To positive samples from non-SSc patients were also tested. For evaluation of the QUANTA Flash Rpp25 CLIA (research use only), 8 anti-Th/To IP positives, a cohort of 70 unselected SSc patients and sera from various disease controls (n = 357) and random healthy individuals (n = 10) were studied.
Anti-Rpp25 antibodies determined by ELISA were found in 11/14 anti-Th/To IP positive but only in 1/156 (0.6%) negative samples resulting in a positive percent agreement of 78.6% (95% confidence interval [CI] 49.2, 95.3%) and a negative percent agreement of 99.4% (95% CI 96.4, 100.0%). To verify the results using a second method, 53 samples were tested by ELISA and CLIA for anti-Rpp25 reactivity and the results were highly correlated (rho = 0.71, 95% CI 0.56, 0.81; P < 0.0001). To define the cutoff of the CLIA, anti-Th/To IP positive and negative sera were tested using the anti-Rpp25 CLIA. At the cutoff selected by receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis 8/8 (100.0%) of the anti-Th/To positive sera but only 2/367 (0.5%) of the controls were positive for anti-Rpp25 antibodies. The positive and negative percent agreements were 100.0% (95% CI 63.1, 100.0%) and 99.5% (95% CI 98.0, 99.9%), respectively. In the disease cohorts 2/70 (2.9%) of the SSc patients were positive for anti-Rpp25 antibodies compared to 2/367 (0.5%) of the controls (P = 0.032). ROC analysis showed discrimination between SSc patients and controls with an area under the curve value of 0.732 (95% CI 0.655, 0.809).
Rpp25 is a major target of autoantibodies to the Th/To autoantigen complex. Further studies are needed to evaluate the clinical utility of the new assays.
PMCID: PMC3672760  PMID: 23587095
22.  Structure and Biological Function of the RNA Pyrophosphohydrolase BdRppH from Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus 
Until recently, the mechanism of mRNA decay in bacteria was thought to be different from that of eukaryotes. This paradigm changed with the discovery that RppH (ORF176/NudH/YgdP), an Escherichia coli enzyme that belongs to the Nudix superfamily, is an RNA resolution pyrophosphohydrolase that initiates mRNA decay by cleaving pyrophosphate from the 5′-triphosphate. Here we report the 1.9 Å structure of the Nudix hydrolase BdRppH from Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus, a bacterium that feeds on other Gram-negative bacteria. Based on the structure of the enzyme alone and in complex with GTP-Mg2+, we propose a mode of RNA binding similar to that of the nuclear decapping enzyme from Xenopus laevis, X29. In additional experiments, we show that BdRppH can indeed function in vitro and in vivo as an RNA pyrophosphohydrolase. These findings set the basis for the identification of possible decapping enzymes in other bacteria.
PMCID: PMC2993163  PMID: 19278661
23.  The P3 domain of eukaryotic RNases P/MRP 
RNA Biology  2010;7(5):534-539.
Nuclear Ribonuclease (RNase) P is a universal essential RNA-based enzyme made of a catalytic RNA component and a protein part; eukaryotic RNase P is closely related to a universal eukaryotic ribonucleoprotein RNase MRP. The protein part of the eukaryotic RNases P/MRP is dramatically more complex than that in bacterial and archaeal RNases P. The increase in the complexity of the protein part in eukaryotic RNases P/MRP was accompanied by the appearance of a novel structural element in the RNA component: an essential and phylogenetically conserved helix-loop-helix P3 RNA domain. The crystal structure of the P3 RNA domain in a complex with protein components Pop6 and Pop7 has been recently solved. Here we discuss the most salient structural features of the P3 domain as well as its possible role in the evolutionary transition to the protein-rich eukaryotic RNases P/MRP.
PMCID: PMC3073249  PMID: 20523128
ribonuclease P; RNase P; ribonuclease MRP; RNase MRP; ribonucleoprotein; ribozyme; P3 domain; Pop6; Pop7; RNA-protein interactions
24.  hPop4: a new protein subunit of the human RNase MRP and RNase P ribonucleoprotein complexes. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1999;27(12):2465-2472.
RNase MRP is a ribonucleoprotein particle involved in the processing of pre-rRNA. The RNase MRP particle is structurally highly related to the RNase P particle, which is involved in pre-tRNA processing. Their RNA components fold into a similar secondary structure and they share several protein subunits. We have identified and characterised human and mouse cDNAs that encode proteins homologous to yPop4p, a protein subunit of both the yeast RNase MRP and RNase P complexes. The human Pop4 cDNA encodes a highly basic protein of 220 amino acids. Transfection experiments with epitope-tagged hPop4 protein indicated that hPop4 is localised in the nucleus and accumulates in the nucleolus. Immunoprecipitation assays using extracts from transfected cells expressing epitope-tagged hPop4 revealed that this protein is associated with both the human RNase MRP and RNase P particles. Polyclonal rabbit antibodies raised against recombinant hPop4 recognised a 30 kDa protein in total HeLa cell extracts and specifically co-immunoprecipitated the RNA components of the RNase MRP and RNase P complexes. Finally we showed that anti-hPop4 immunoprecipitates possess RNase P enzymatic activity. Taken together, these data show that we have identified a protein that represents the human counterpart of the yeast Pop4p protein.
PMCID: PMC148449  PMID: 10352175
25.  Structural Elucidation and Functional Characterization of the Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis Effector Protein ATR13 
PLoS Pathogens  2011;7(12):e1002428.
The oomycete Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis (Hpa) is the causal agent of downy mildew on the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana and has been adapted as a model system to investigate pathogen virulence strategies and plant disease resistance mechanisms. Recognition of Hpa infection occurs when plant resistance proteins (R-genes) detect the presence or activity of pathogen-derived protein effectors delivered to the plant host. This study examines the Hpa effector ATR13 Emco5 and its recognition by RPP13-Nd, the cognate R-gene that triggers programmed cell death (HR) in the presence of recognized ATR13 variants. Herein, we use NMR to solve the backbone structure of ATR13 Emco5, revealing both a helical domain and a disordered internal loop. Additionally, we use site-directed and random mutagenesis to identify several amino acid residues involved in the recognition response conferred by RPP13-Nd. Using our structure as a scaffold, we map these residues to one of two surface-exposed patches of residues under diversifying selection. Exploring possible roles of the disordered region within the ATR13 structure, we perform domain swapping experiments and identify a peptide sequence involved in nucleolar localization. We conclude that ATR13 is a highly dynamic protein with no clear structural homologues that contains two surface-exposed patches of polymorphism, only one of which is involved in RPP13-Nd recognition specificity.
Author Summary
Understanding how pathogenic microbes suppress host defenses and extract host nutrients is crucial to engineering methods to manage pathogen spread. By delivering an arsenal of proteins called effectors into the host, pathogens can overcome various counter measures taken by plants and animals to control pathogen proliferation. The key to deciphering how these pathogens manipulate their hosts is to determine the function of each effector and to evaluate its role in pathogen virulence. In the case of oomycetes, effectors share little sequence similarity to any known proteins; therefore, structural and functional predictions are difficult. By solving the structure of ATR13, we are able to contribute a protein structure to the PDB database and the scientific community at large. Our structure reveals the unique fold of our protein and illustrates how different evolutionary driving forces have shaped the surface topography of ATR13. Additionally, our structure allows us to identify a peptide sequence that plays a role in nucleolar transport, permitting us to inform nucleolar localization prediction programs about oomycete targeting sequences.
PMCID: PMC3240608  PMID: 22194684

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