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1.  Sequence-specific cleavage of the RNA strand in DNA–RNA hybrids by the fusion of ribonuclease H with a zinc finger 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;40(22):11563-11570.
Ribonucleases (RNases) are valuable tools applied in the analysis of RNA sequence, structure and function. Their substrate specificity is limited to recognition of single bases or distinct secondary structures in the substrate. Currently, there are no RNases available for purely sequence-dependent fragmentation of RNA. Here, we report the development of a new enzyme that cleaves the RNA strand in DNA–RNA hybrids 5 nt from a nonanucleotide recognition sequence. The enzyme was constructed by fusing two functionally independent domains, a RNase HI, that hydrolyzes RNA in DNA–RNA hybrids in processive and sequence-independent manner, and a zinc finger that recognizes a sequence in DNA–RNA hybrids. The optimization of the fusion enzyme’s specificity was guided by a structural model of the protein-substrate complex and involved a number of steps, including site-directed mutagenesis of the RNase moiety and optimization of the interdomain linker length. Methods for engineering zinc finger domains with new sequence specificities are readily available, making it feasible to acquire a library of RNases that recognize and cleave a variety of sequences, much like the commercially available assortment of restriction enzymes. Potentially, zinc finger-RNase HI fusions may, in addition to in vitro applications, be used in vivo for targeted RNA degradation.
doi:10.1093/nar/gks885
PMCID: PMC3526281  PMID: 23042681
2.  Crystal structures of the tRNA:m2G6 methyltransferase Trm14/TrmN from two domains of life 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;40(11):5149-5161.
Methyltransferases (MTases) form a major class of tRNA-modifying enzymes needed for the proper functioning of tRNA. Recently, RNA MTases from the TrmN/Trm14 family that are present in Archaea, Bacteria and Eukaryota have been shown to specifically modify tRNAPhe at guanosine 6 in the tRNA acceptor stem. Here, we report the first X-ray crystal structures of the tRNA m2G6 (N2-methylguanosine) MTase TTCTrmN from Thermus thermophilus and its ortholog PfTrm14 from Pyrococcus furiosus. Structures of PfTrm14 were solved in complex with the methyl donor S-adenosyl-l-methionine (SAM or AdoMet), as well as the reaction product S-adenosyl-homocysteine (SAH or AdoHcy) and the inhibitor sinefungin. TTCTrmN and PfTrm14 consist of an N-terminal THUMP domain fused to a catalytic Rossmann-fold MTase (RFM) domain. These results represent the first crystallographic structure analysis of proteins containing both THUMP and RFM domain, and hence provide further insight in the contribution of the THUMP domain in tRNA recognition and catalysis. Electrostatics and conservation calculations suggest a main tRNA binding surface in a groove between the THUMP domain and the MTase domain. This is further supported by a docking model of TrmN in complex with tRNAPhe of T. thermophilus and via site-directed mutagenesis.
doi:10.1093/nar/gks163
PMCID: PMC3367198  PMID: 22362751
3.  FILTREST3D: discrimination of structural models using restraints from experimental data 
Bioinformatics  2010;26(23):2986-2987.
Summary: Automatic methods for macromolecular structure prediction (fold recognition, de novo folding and docking programs) produce large sets of alternative models. These large model sets often include many native-like structures, which are often scored as false positives. Such native-like models can be more easily identified based on data from experimental analyses used as structural restraints (e.g. identification of nearby residues by cross-linking, chemical modification, site-directed mutagenesis, deuterium exchange coupled with mass spectrometry, etc.). We present a simple server for scoring and ranking of models according to their agreement with user-defined restraints.
Availability: FILTREST3D is freely available for users as a web server and standalone software at: http://filtrest3d.genesilico.pl/
Contact: iamb@genesilico.pl
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
doi:10.1093/bioinformatics/btq582
PMCID: PMC2982159  PMID: 20956242
4.  DARS-RNP and QUASI-RNP: New statistical potentials for protein-RNA docking 
BMC Bioinformatics  2011;12:348.
Background
Protein-RNA interactions play fundamental roles in many biological processes. Understanding the molecular mechanism of protein-RNA recognition and formation of protein-RNA complexes is a major challenge in structural biology. Unfortunately, the experimental determination of protein-RNA complexes is tedious and difficult, both by X-ray crystallography and NMR. For many interacting proteins and RNAs the individual structures are available, enabling computational prediction of complex structures by computational docking. However, methods for protein-RNA docking remain scarce, in particular in comparison to the numerous methods for protein-protein docking.
Results
We developed two medium-resolution, knowledge-based potentials for scoring protein-RNA models obtained by docking: the quasi-chemical potential (QUASI-RNP) and the Decoys As the Reference State potential (DARS-RNP). Both potentials use a coarse-grained representation for both RNA and protein molecules and are capable of dealing with RNA structures with posttranscriptionally modified residues. We compared the discriminative power of DARS-RNP and QUASI-RNP for selecting rigid-body docking poses with the potentials previously developed by the Varani and Fernandez groups.
Conclusions
In both bound and unbound docking tests, DARS-RNP showed the highest ability to identify native-like structures. Python implementations of DARS-RNP and QUASI-RNP are freely available for download at http://iimcb.genesilico.pl/RNP/
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-12-348
PMCID: PMC3179970  PMID: 21851628
RNA; protein; RNP; macromolecular docking; complex modeling; structural bioinformatics
5.  The structure of M.EcoKI Type I DNA methyltransferase with a DNA mimic antirestriction protein 
Nucleic Acids Research  2008;37(3):762-770.
Type-I DNA restriction–modification (R/M) systems are important agents in limiting the transmission of mobile genetic elements responsible for spreading bacterial resistance to antibiotics. EcoKI, a Type I R/M enzyme from Escherichia coli, acts by methylation- and sequence-specific recognition, leading to either methylation of DNA or translocation and cutting at a random site, often hundreds of base pairs away. Consisting of one specificity subunit, two modification subunits, and two DNA translocase/endonuclease subunits, EcoKI is inhibited by the T7 phage antirestriction protein ocr, a DNA mimic. We present a 3D density map generated by negative-stain electron microscopy and single particle analysis of the central core of the restriction complex, the M.EcoKI M2S1 methyltransferase, bound to ocr. We also present complete atomic models of M.EcoKI in complex with ocr and its cognate DNA giving a clear picture of the overall clamp-like operation of the enzyme. The model is consistent with a large body of experimental data on EcoKI published over 40 years.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkn988
PMCID: PMC2647291  PMID: 19074193
6.  THUMP from archaeal tRNA:m22G10 methyltransferase, a genuine autonomously folding domain 
Nucleic Acids Research  2006;34(9):2483-2494.
The tRNA:m22G10 methyltransferase of Pyrococus abyssi (PAB1283, a member of COG1041) catalyzes the N2,N2-dimethylation of guanosine at position 10 in tRNA. Boundaries of its THUMP (THioUridine synthases, RNA Methyltransferases and Pseudo-uridine synthases)—containing N-terminal domain [1–152] and C-terminal catalytic domain [157–329] were assessed by trypsin limited proteolysis. An inter-domain flexible region of at least six residues was revealed. The N-terminal domain was then produced as a standalone protein (THUMPα) and further characterized. This autonomously folded unit exhibits very low affinity for tRNA. Using protein fold-recognition (FR) methods, we identified the similarity between THUMPα and a putative RNA-recognition module observed in the crystal structure of another THUMP-containing protein (ThiI thiolase of Bacillus anthracis). A comparative model of THUMPα structure was generated, which fulfills experimentally defined restraints, i.e. chemical modification of surface exposed residues assessed by mass spectrometry, and identification of an intramolecular disulfide bridge. A model of the whole PAB1283 enzyme docked onto its tRNAAsp substrate suggests that the THUMP module specifically takes support on the co-axially stacked helices of T-arm and acceptor stem of tRNA and, together with the catalytic domain, screw-clamp structured tRNA. We propose that this mode of interactions may be common to other THUMP-containing enzymes that specifically modify nucleotides in the 3D-core of tRNA.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkl145
PMCID: PMC1459410  PMID: 16687654

Results 1-6 (6)