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1.  Structural and functional basis for RNA cleavage by Ire1 
BMC Biology  2011;9:47.
Background
The unfolded protein response (UPR) controls the protein folding capacity of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Central to this signaling pathway is the ER-resident bifunctional transmembrane kinase/endoribonuclease Ire1. The endoribonuclease (RNase) domain of Ire1 initiates a non-conventional mRNA splicing reaction, leading to the production of a transcription factor that controls UPR target genes. The mRNA splicing reaction is an obligatory step of Ire1 signaling, yet its mechanism has remained poorly understood due to the absence of substrate-bound crystal structures of Ire1, the lack of structural similarity between Ire1 and other RNases, and a scarcity of quantitative enzymological data. Here, we experimentally define the active site of Ire1 RNase and quantitatively evaluate the contribution of the key active site residues to catalysis.
Results
This analysis and two new crystal structures suggest that Ire1 RNase uses histidine H1061 and tyrosine Y1043 as the general acid-general base pair contributing ≥ 7.6 kcal/mol and 1.4 kcal/mol to transition state stabilization, respectively, and asparagine N1057 and arginine R1056 for coordination of the scissile phosphate. Investigation of the stem-loop recognition revealed that additionally to the stem-loops derived from the classic Ire1 substrates HAC1 and Xbp1 mRNA, Ire1 can site-specifically and rapidly cleave anticodon stem-loop (ASL) of unmodified tRNAPhe, extending known substrate specificity of Ire1 RNase.
Conclusions
Our data define the catalytic center of Ire1 RNase and suggest a mechanism of RNA cleavage: each RNase monomer apparently contains a separate catalytic apparatus for RNA cleavage, whereas two RNase subunits contribute to RNA stem-loop docking. Conservation of the key residues among Ire1 homologues suggests that the mechanism elucidated here for yeast Ire1 applies to Ire1 in metazoan cells, and to the only known Ire1 homologue RNase L.
doi:10.1186/1741-7007-9-47
PMCID: PMC3149027  PMID: 21729333
2.  Cofactor-mediated conformational control in the bifunctional kinase/RNase Ire1 
BMC Biology  2011;9:48.
Background
Ire1 is a signal transduction protein in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membrane that serves to adjust the protein-folding capacity of the ER according to the needs of the cell. Ire1 signals, in a transcriptional program, the unfolded protein response (UPR) via the coordinated action of its protein kinase and RNase domains. In this study, we investigated how the binding of cofactors to the kinase domain of Ire1 modulates its RNase activity.
Results
Our results suggest that the kinase domain of Ire1 initially binds cofactors without activation of the RNase domain. RNase is activated upon a subsequent conformational rearrangement of Ire1 governed by the chemical properties of bound cofactors. The conformational step can be selectively inhibited by chemical perturbations of cofactors. Substitution of a single oxygen atom in the terminal β-phosphate group of a potent cofactor ADP by sulfur results in ADPβS, a cofactor that binds to Ire1 as well as to ADP but does not activate RNase. RNase activity can be rescued by thiophilic metal ions such as Mn2+ and Cd2+, revealing a functional metal ion-phosphate interaction which controls the conformation and RNase activity of the Ire1 ADP complex. Mutagenesis of the kinase domain suggests that this rearrangement involves movement of the αC-helix, which is generally conserved among protein kinases. Using X-ray crystallography, we show that oligomerization of Ire1 is sufficient for placing the αC-helix in the active, cofactor-bound-like conformation, even in the absence of cofactors.
Conclusions
Our structural and biochemical evidence converges on a model that the cofactor-induced conformational change in Ire1 is coupled to oligomerization of the receptor, which, in turn, activates RNase. The data reveal that cofactor-Ire1 interactions occur in two independent steps: binding of a cofactor to Ire1 and subsequent rearrangement of Ire1 resulting in its self-association. The pronounced allosteric effect of cofactors on protein-protein interactions involving Ire1's kinase domain suggests that protein kinases and pseudokinases encoded in metazoan genomes may use ATP pocket-binding ligands similarly to exert signaling roles other than phosphoryl transfer.
doi:10.1186/1741-7007-9-48
PMCID: PMC3158555  PMID: 21729334

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