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1.  A composite double-/single-stranded RNA-binding region in protein Prp3 supports tri-snRNP stability and splicing 
eLife  null;4:e07320.
Prp3 is an essential U4/U6 di-snRNP-associated protein whose functions and molecular mechanisms in pre-mRNA splicing are presently poorly understood. We show by structural and biochemical analyses that Prp3 contains a bipartite U4/U6 di-snRNA-binding region comprising an expanded ferredoxin-like fold, which recognizes a 3′-overhang of U6 snRNA, and a preceding peptide, which binds U4/U6 stem II. Phylogenetic analyses revealed that the single-stranded RNA-binding domain is exclusively found in Prp3 orthologs, thus qualifying as a spliceosome-specific RNA interaction module. The composite double-stranded/single-stranded RNA-binding region assembles cooperatively with Snu13 and Prp31 on U4/U6 di-snRNAs and inhibits Brr2-mediated U4/U6 di-snRNA unwinding in vitro. RNP-disrupting mutations in Prp3 lead to U4/U6•U5 tri-snRNP assembly and splicing defects in vivo. Our results reveal how Prp3 acts as an important bridge between U4/U6 and U5 in the tri-snRNP and comparison with a Prp24-U6 snRNA recycling complex suggests how Prp3 may be involved in U4/U6 reassembly after splicing.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.07320.001
eLife digest
Proteins are built following instructions contained within the DNA of gene sequences. This genetic information is copied into short-lived molecules, called messenger RNAs (or mRNAs), which move away from the DNA and are then decoded by the molecular machines that build proteins. However, mRNA sequences often have to be edited before they are used. Another molecular machine, called a spliceosome, carries out some of this editing.
A spliceosome is formed from a number of smaller subunits, including three RNA-protein particles that each contain one RNA molecule (called U1, U2 and U5), and one particle that contains two RNA molecules (called U4 and U6). These subunits must assemble around an unedited mRNA in a particular order so that the spliceosome can work correctly. Once the mRNA has been edited, and the spliceosome has performed its job, these complexes need to disassemble so that they are ready to be reassembled around a new mRNA molecule. A protein called Prp3 is known to be involved in these assembly, disassembly and reassembly steps. However, it is unclear how this protein performs these activities.
Liu et al. have now used structural biology and biochemical techniques to determine the three-dimensional structure of Prp3, and have shown that this protein has a “two-part” binding site that binds to the RNA molecules in the U4/U6 subunit of the spliceosome. Further analyses revealed that one of these features is only found in Prp3 and not in other types of RNA-binding proteins.
Together with previous work, Liu et al. also reveal that Prp3 can serve as a ‘bridge’ between the U4/U6 and U5 subunits of the spliceosome, and suggest how these features allow the two subunits to group together before they are incorporated into a spliceosome.
Notably, certain mutations in the gene for the Prp3 protein lead to a human eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa. In the future it will be important to investigate if the above activities are affected in the mutant variants of the Prp3 protein.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.07320.002
doi:10.7554/eLife.07320
PMCID: PMC4520091  PMID: 26161500
small nuclear ribonucleoprotein particle; pre-mRNA splicing; protein–RNA interaction; X-ray crystallography; human; S. cerevisiae
2.  Computational modeling of RNA 3D structures, with the aid of experimental restraints 
RNA Biology  2014;11(5):522-536.
In addition to mRNAs whose primary function is transmission of genetic information from DNA to proteins, numerous other classes of RNA molecules exist, which are involved in a variety of functions, such as catalyzing biochemical reactions or performing regulatory roles. In analogy to proteins, the function of RNAs depends on their structure and dynamics, which are largely determined by the ribonucleotide sequence. Experimental determination of high-resolution RNA structures is both laborious and difficult, and therefore, the majority of known RNAs remain structurally uncharacterized. To address this problem, computational structure prediction methods were developed that simulate either the physical process of RNA structure formation (“Greek science” approach) or utilize information derived from known structures of other RNA molecules (“Babylonian science” approach). All computational methods suffer from various limitations that make them generally unreliable for structure prediction of long RNA sequences. However, in many cases, the limitations of computational and experimental methods can be overcome by combining these two complementary approaches with each other. In this work, we review computational approaches for RNA structure prediction, with emphasis on implementations (particular programs) that can utilize restraints derived from experimental analyses. We also list experimental approaches, whose results can be relatively easily used by computational methods. Finally, we describe case studies where computational and experimental analyses were successfully combined to determine RNA structures that would remain out of reach for each of these approaches applied separately.
doi:10.4161/rna.28826
PMCID: PMC4152360  PMID: 24785264
RNA structure; RNA structure prediction; macromolecular modeling; bioinformatics; chemical probing
3.  Loss of Conserved Noncoding RNAs in Genomes of Bacterial Endosymbionts 
Genome Biology and Evolution  2016;8(2):426-438.
The genomes of intracellular symbiotic or pathogenic bacteria, such as of Buchnera, Mycoplasma, and Rickettsia, are typically smaller compared with their free-living counterparts. Here we showed that noncoding RNA (ncRNA) families, which are conserved in free-living bacteria, frequently could not be detected by computational methods in the small genomes. Statistical tests demonstrated that their absence is not an artifact of low GC content or small deletions in these small genomes, and thus it was indicative of an independent loss of ncRNAs in different endosymbiotic lineages. By analyzing the synteny (conservation of gene order) between the reduced and nonreduced genomes, we revealed instances of protein-coding genes that were preserved in the reduced genomes but lost cis-regulatory elements. We found that the loss of cis-regulatory ncRNA sequences, which regulate the expression of cognate protein-coding genes, is characterized by the reduction of secondary structure formation propensity, GC content, and length of the corresponding genomic regions.
doi:10.1093/gbe/evw007
PMCID: PMC4779614  PMID: 26782934
endosymbionts; noncoding RNA loss; covariance models; Rfam
4.  MODOMICS: a database of RNA modification pathways. 2008 update 
Nucleic Acids Research  2008;37(Database issue):D118-D121.
MODOMICS, a database devoted to the systems biology of RNA modification, has been subjected to substantial improvements. It provides comprehensive information on the chemical structure of modified nucleosides, pathways of their biosynthesis, sequences of RNAs containing these modifications and RNA-modifying enzymes. MODOMICS also provides cross-references to other databases and to literature. In addition to the previously available manually curated tRNA sequences from a few model organisms, we have now included additional tRNAs and rRNAs, and all RNAs with 3D structures in the Nucleic Acid Database, in which modified nucleosides are present. In total, 3460 modified bases in RNA sequences of different organisms have been annotated. New RNA-modifying enzymes have been also added. The current collection of enzymes includes mainly proteins for the model organisms Escherichia coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and is currently being expanded to include proteins from other organisms, in particular Archaea and Homo sapiens. For enzymes with known structures, links are provided to the corresponding Protein Data Bank entries, while for many others homology models have been created. Many new options for database searching and querying have been included. MODOMICS can be accessed at http://genesilico.pl/modomics.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkn710
PMCID: PMC2686465  PMID: 18854352
5.  Phylogenomics and sequence-structure-function relationships in the GmrSD family of Type IV restriction enzymes 
BMC Bioinformatics  2015;16:336.
Background
GmrSD is a modification-dependent restriction endonuclease that specifically targets and cleaves glucosylated hydroxymethylcytosine (glc-HMC) modified DNA. It is encoded either as two separate single-domain GmrS and GmrD proteins or as a single protein carrying both domains. Previous studies suggested that GmrS acts as endonuclease and NTPase whereas GmrD binds DNA.
Methods
In this work we applied homology detection, sequence conservation analysis, fold recognition and homology modeling methods to study sequence-structure-function relationships in the GmrSD restriction endonucleases family. We also analyzed the phylogeny and genomic context of the family members.
Results
Results of our comparative genomics study show that GmrS exhibits similarity to proteins from the ParB/Srx fold which can have both NTPase and nuclease activity. In contrast to the previous studies though, we attribute the nuclease activity also to GmrD as we found it to contain the HNH endonuclease motif. We revealed residues potentially important for structure and function in both domains. Moreover, we found that GmrSD systems exist predominantly as a fused, double-domain form rather than as a heterodimer and that their homologs are often encoded in regions enriched in defense and gene mobility-related elements. Finally, phylogenetic reconstructions of GmrS and GmrD domains revealed that they coevolved and only few GmrSD systems appear to be assembled from distantly related GmrS and GmrD components.
Conclusions
Our study provides insight into sequence-structure-function relationships in the yet poorly characterized family of Type IV restriction enzymes. Comparative genomics allowed to propose possible role of GmrD domain in the function of the GmrSD enzyme and possible active sites of both GmrS and GmrD domains. Presented results can guide further experimental characterization of these enzymes.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12859-015-0773-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12859-015-0773-z
PMCID: PMC4619093  PMID: 26493560
Restriction-Modification systems; Modification-Dependent systems; Type IV; Comparative genomics; Defense islands; Fold recognition; HNH endonuclease; ParB/Srx fold
6.  Functional and Bioinformatics Analysis of Two Campylobacter jejuni Homologs of the Thiol-Disulfide Oxidoreductase, DsbA 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e106247.
Background
Bacterial Dsb enzymes are involved in the oxidative folding of many proteins, through the formation of disulfide bonds between their cysteine residues. The Dsb protein network has been well characterized in cells of the model microorganism Escherichia coli. To gain insight into the functioning of the Dsb system in epsilon-Proteobacteria, where it plays an important role in the colonization process, we studied two homologs of the main Escherichia coli Dsb oxidase (EcDsbA) that are present in the cells of the enteric pathogen Campylobacter jejuni, the most frequently reported bacterial cause of human enteritis in the world.
Methods and Results
Phylogenetic analysis suggests the horizontal transfer of the epsilon-Proteobacterial DsbAs from a common ancestor to gamma-Proteobacteria, which then gave rise to the DsbL lineage. Phenotype and enzymatic assays suggest that the two C. jejuni DsbAs play different roles in bacterial cells and have divergent substrate spectra. CjDsbA1 is essential for the motility and autoagglutination phenotypes, while CjDsbA2 has no impact on those processes. CjDsbA1 plays a critical role in the oxidative folding that ensures the activity of alkaline phosphatase CjPhoX, whereas CjDsbA2 is crucial for the activity of arylsulfotransferase CjAstA, encoded within the dsbA2-dsbB-astA operon.
Conclusions
Our results show that CjDsbA1 is the primary thiol-oxidoreductase affecting life processes associated with bacterial spread and host colonization, as well as ensuring the oxidative folding of particular protein substrates. In contrast, CjDsbA2 activity does not affect the same processes and so far its oxidative folding activity has been demonstrated for one substrate, arylsulfotransferase CjAstA. The results suggest the cooperation between CjDsbA2 and CjDsbB. In the case of the CjDsbA1, this cooperation is not exclusive and there is probably another protein to be identified in C. jejuni cells that acts to re-oxidize CjDsbA1. Altogether the data presented here constitute the considerable insight to the Epsilonproteobacterial Dsb systems, which have been poorly understood so far.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0106247
PMCID: PMC4152235  PMID: 25181355
7.  Novel Highly Thermostable Endolysin from Thermus scotoductus MAT2119 Bacteriophage Ph2119 with Amino Acid Sequence Similarity to Eukaryotic Peptidoglycan Recognition Proteins 
In this study, we present the discovery and characterization of a highly thermostable endolysin from bacteriophage Ph2119 infecting Thermus strain MAT2119 isolated from geothermal areas in Iceland. Nucleotide sequence analysis of the 16S rRNA gene affiliated the strain with the species Thermus scotoductus. Bioinformatics analysis has allowed identification in the genome of phage 2119 of an open reading frame (468 bp in length) coding for a 155-amino-acid basic protein with an Mr of 17,555. Ph2119 endolysin does not resemble any known thermophilic phage lytic enzymes. Instead, it has conserved amino acid residues (His30, Tyr58, His132, and Cys140) that form a Zn2+ binding site characteristic of T3 and T7 lysozymes, as well as eukaryotic peptidoglycan recognition proteins, which directly bind to, but also may destroy, bacterial peptidoglycan. The purified enzyme shows high lytic activity toward thermophiles, i.e., T. scotoductus (100%), Thermus thermophilus (100%), and Thermus flavus (99%), and also, to a lesser extent, toward mesophilic Gram-negative bacteria, i.e., Escherichia coli (34%), Serratia marcescens (28%), Pseudomonas fluorescens (13%), and Salmonella enterica serovar Panama (10%). The enzyme has shown no activity against a number of Gram-positive bacteria analyzed, with the exception of Deinococcus radiodurans (25%) and Bacillus cereus (15%). Ph2119 endolysin was found to be highly thermostable: it retains approximately 87% of its lytic activity after 6 h of incubation at 95°C. The optimum temperature range for the enzyme activity is 50°C to 78°C. The enzyme exhibits lytic activity in the pH range of 6 to 10 (maximum at pH 7.5 to 8.0) and is also active in the presence of up to 500 mM NaCl.
doi:10.1128/AEM.03074-13
PMCID: PMC3911187  PMID: 24271162
8.  The RNase H-like superfamily: new members, comparative structural analysis and evolutionary classification 
Nucleic Acids Research  2014;42(7):4160-4179.
Ribonuclease H-like (RNHL) superfamily, also called the retroviral integrase superfamily, groups together numerous enzymes involved in nucleic acid metabolism and implicated in many biological processes, including replication, homologous recombination, DNA repair, transposition and RNA interference. The RNHL superfamily proteins show extensive divergence of sequences and structures. We conducted database searches to identify members of the RNHL superfamily (including those previously unknown), yielding >60 000 unique domain sequences. Our analysis led to the identification of new RNHL superfamily members, such as RRXRR (PF14239), DUF460 (PF04312, COG2433), DUF3010 (PF11215), DUF429 (PF04250 and COG2410, COG4328, COG4923), DUF1092 (PF06485), COG5558, OrfB_IS605 (PF01385, COG0675) and Peptidase_A17 (PF05380). Based on the clustering analysis we grouped all identified RNHL domain sequences into 152 families. Phylogenetic studies revealed relationships between these families, and suggested a possible history of the evolution of RNHL fold and its active site. Our results revealed clear division of the RNHL superfamily into exonucleases and endonucleases. Structural analyses of features characteristic for particular groups revealed a correlation between the orientation of the C-terminal helix with the exonuclease/endonuclease function and the architecture of the active site. Our analysis provides a comprehensive picture of sequence-structure-function relationships in the RNHL superfamily that may guide functional studies of the previously uncharacterized protein families.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkt1414
PMCID: PMC3985635  PMID: 24464998
9.  MODOMICS: a database of RNA modification pathways—2013 update 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;41(Database issue):D262-D267.
MODOMICS is a database of RNA modifications that provides comprehensive information concerning the chemical structures of modified ribonucleosides, their biosynthetic pathways, RNA-modifying enzymes and location of modified residues in RNA sequences. In the current database version, accessible at http://modomics.genesilico.pl, we included new features: a census of human and yeast snoRNAs involved in RNA-guided RNA modification, a new section covering the 5′-end capping process, and a catalogue of ‘building blocks’ for chemical synthesis of a large variety of modified nucleosides. The MODOMICS collections of RNA modifications, RNA-modifying enzymes and modified RNAs have been also updated. A number of newly identified modified ribonucleosides and more than one hundred functionally and structurally characterized proteins from various organisms have been added. In the RNA sequences section, snRNAs and snoRNAs with experimentally mapped modified nucleosides have been added and the current collection of rRNA and tRNA sequences has been substantially enlarged. To facilitate literature searches, each record in MODOMICS has been cross-referenced to other databases and to selected key publications. New options for database searching and querying have been implemented, including a BLAST search of protein sequences and a PARALIGN search of the collected nucleic acid sequences.
doi:10.1093/nar/gks1007
PMCID: PMC3531130  PMID: 23118484
10.  Delineation of structural domains and identification of functionally important residues in DNA repair enzyme exonuclease VII 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;40(16):8163-8174.
Exonuclease VII (ExoVII) is a bacterial nuclease involved in DNA repair and recombination that hydrolyses single-stranded DNA. ExoVII is composed of two subunits: large XseA and small XseB. Thus far, little was known about the molecular structure of ExoVII, the interactions between XseA and XseB, the architecture of the nuclease active site or its mechanism of action. We used bioinformatics methods to predict the structure of XseA, which revealed four domains: an N-terminal OB-fold domain, a middle putatively catalytic domain, a coiled-coil domain and a short C-terminal segment. By series of deletion and site-directed mutagenesis experiments on XseA from Escherichia coli, we determined that the OB-fold domain is responsible for DNA binding, the coiled-coil domain is involved in binding multiple copies of the XseB subunit and residues D155, R205, H238 and D241 of the middle domain are important for the catalytic activity but not for DNA binding. Altogether, we propose a model of sequence–structure–function relationships in ExoVII.
doi:10.1093/nar/gks547
PMCID: PMC3439923  PMID: 22718974
11.  Structural and evolutionary bioinformatics of the SPOUT superfamily of methyltransferases 
BMC Bioinformatics  2007;8:73.
Background
SPOUT methyltransferases (MTases) are a large class of S-adenosyl-L-methionine-dependent enzymes that exhibit an unusual alpha/beta fold with a very deep topological knot. In 2001, when no crystal structures were available for any of these proteins, Anantharaman, Koonin, and Aravind identified homology between SpoU and TrmD MTases and defined the SPOUT superfamily. Since then, multiple crystal structures of knotted MTases have been solved and numerous new homologous sequences appeared in the databases. However, no comprehensive comparative analysis of these proteins has been carried out to classify them based on structural and evolutionary criteria and to guide functional predictions.
Results
We carried out extensive searches of databases of protein structures and sequences to collect all members of previously identified SPOUT MTases, and to identify previously unknown homologs. Based on sequence clustering, characterization of domain architecture, structure predictions and sequence/structure comparisons, we re-defined families within the SPOUT superfamily and predicted putative active sites and biochemical functions for the so far uncharacterized members. We have also delineated the common core of SPOUT MTases and inferred a multiple sequence alignment for the conserved knot region, from which we calculated the phylogenetic tree of the superfamily. We have also studied phylogenetic distribution of different families, and used this information to infer the evolutionary history of the SPOUT superfamily.
Conclusion
We present the first phylogenetic tree of the SPOUT superfamily since it was defined, together with a new scheme for its classification, and discussion about conservation of sequence and structure in different families, and their functional implications. We identified four protein families as new members of the SPOUT superfamily. Three of these families are functionally uncharacterized (COG1772, COG1901, and COG4080), and one (COG1756 represented by Nep1p) has been already implicated in RNA metabolism, but its biochemical function has been unknown. Based on the inference of orthologous and paralogous relationships between all SPOUT families we propose that the Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA) of all extant organisms contained at least three SPOUT members, ancestors of contemporary RNA MTases that carry out m1G, m3U, and 2'O-ribose methylation, respectively. In this work we also speculate on the origin of the knot and propose possible 'unknotted' ancestors. The results of our analysis provide a comprehensive 'roadmap' for experimental characterization of SPOUT MTases and interpretation of functional studies in the light of sequence-structure relationships.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-8-73
PMCID: PMC1829167  PMID: 17338813
12.  The yfhQ gene of Escherichia coli encodes a tRNA:Cm32/Um32 methyltransferase 
Background
Naturally occurring tRNAs contain numerous modified nucleosides. They are formed by enzymatic modification of the primary transcripts during the complex RNA maturation process. In model organisms Escherichia coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae most enzymes involved in this process have been identified. Interestingly, it was found that tRNA methylation, one of the most common modifications, can be introduced by S-adenosyl-L-methionine (AdoMet)-dependent methyltransferases (MTases) that belong to two structurally and phylogenetically unrelated protein superfamilies: RFM and SPOUT.
Results
As a part of a large-scale project aiming at characterization of a complete set of RNA modification enzymes of model organisms, we have studied the Escherichia coli proteins YibK, LasT, YfhQ, and YbeA for their ability to introduce the last unassigned methylations of ribose at positions 32 and 34 of the tRNA anticodon loop. We found that YfhQ catalyzes the AdoMet-dependent formation of Cm32 or Um32 in tRNASer1 and tRNAGln2 and that an E. coli strain with a disrupted yfhQ gene lacks the tRNA:Cm32/Um32 methyltransferase activity. Thus, we propose to rename YfhQ as TrMet(Xm32) according to the recently proposed, uniform nomenclature for all RNA modification enzymes, or TrmJ, according to the traditional nomenclature for bacterial tRNA MTases.
Conclusion
Our results reveal that methylation at position 32 is carried out by completely unrelated TrMet(Xm32) enzymes in eukaryota and prokaryota (RFM superfamily member Trm7 and SPOUT superfamily member TrmJ, respectively), mirroring the scenario observed in the case of the m1G37 modification (introduced by the RFM member Trm5 in eukaryota and archaea, and by the SPOUT member TrmD in bacteria).
doi:10.1186/1471-2199-7-23
PMCID: PMC1569432  PMID: 16848900
13.  Phylogenomic analysis of the GIY-YIG nuclease superfamily 
BMC Genomics  2006;7:98.
Background
The GIY-YIG domain was initially identified in homing endonucleases and later in other selfish mobile genetic elements (including restriction enzymes and non-LTR retrotransposons) and in enzymes involved in DNA repair and recombination. However, to date no systematic search for novel members of the GIY-YIG superfamily or comparative analysis of these enzymes has been reported.
Results
We carried out database searches to identify all members of known GIY-YIG nuclease families. Multiple sequence alignments together with predicted secondary structures of identified families were represented as Hidden Markov Models (HMM) and compared by the HHsearch method to the uncharacterized protein families gathered in the COG, KOG, and PFAM databases. This analysis allowed for extending the GIY-YIG superfamily to include members of COG3680 and a number of proteins not classified in COGs and to predict that these proteins may function as nucleases, potentially involved in DNA recombination and/or repair. Finally, all old and new members of the GIY-YIG superfamily were compared and analyzed to infer the phylogenetic tree.
Conclusion
An evolutionary classification of the GIY-YIG superfamily is presented for the very first time, along with the structural annotation of all (sub)families. It provides a comprehensive picture of sequence-structure-function relationships in this superfamily of nucleases, which will help to design experiments to study the mechanism of action of known members (especially the uncharacterized ones) and will facilitate the prediction of function for the newly discovered ones.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-7-98
PMCID: PMC1564403  PMID: 16646971
14.  MODOMICS: a database of RNA modification pathways 
Nucleic Acids Research  2005;34(Database issue):D145-D149.
MODOMICS is the first comprehensive database resource for systems biology of RNA modification. It integrates information about the chemical structure of modified nucleosides, their localization in RNA sequences, pathways of their biosynthesis and enzymes that carry out the respective reactions. MODOMICS also provides literature information, and links to other databases, including the available protein sequence and structure data. The current list of modifications and pathways is comprehensive, while the dataset of enzymes is limited to Escherichia coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae and sequence alignments are presented only for tRNAs from these organisms. RNAs and enzymes from other organisms will be included in the near future. MODOMICS can be queried by the type of nucleoside (e.g. A, G, C, U, I, m1A, nm5s2U, etc.), type of RNA, position of a particular nucleoside, type of reaction (e.g. methylation, thiolation, deamination, etc.) and name or sequence of an enzyme of interest. Options for data presentation include graphs of pathways involving the query nucleoside, multiple sequence alignments of RNA sequences and tabular forms with enzyme and literature data. The contents of MODOMICS can be accessed through the World Wide Web at .
doi:10.1093/nar/gkj084
PMCID: PMC1347447  PMID: 16381833

Results 1-14 (14)