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Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2008 Feb;15(2):206-12. doi: 10.1038/nsmb.1376. Epub 2008 Jan 20.

Structural insights into the dual activity of RNase J.

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  • 1FRC550, Institut de Biologie Physico-Chimique, 13 rue Pierre et Marie Curie, 75005 Paris, France.


The maturation and stability of RNA transcripts is controlled by a combination of endo- and exoRNases. RNase J is unique, as it combines an RNase E-like endoribonucleolytic and a 5'-to-3' exoribonucleolytic activity in a single polypeptide. The structural basis for this dual activity is unknown. Here we report the crystal structures of Thermus thermophilus RNase J and its complex with uridine 5'-monophosphate. A binding pocket coordinating the phosphate and base moieties of the nucleotide in the vicinity of the catalytic center provide a rationale for the 5'-monophosphate-dependent 5'-to-3' exoribonucleolytic activity. We show that this dependence is strict; an initial 5'-PPP transcript cannot be degraded exonucleolytically from the 5'-end. Our results suggest that RNase J might switch promptly from endo- to exonucleolytic mode on the same RNA, a property that has important implications for RNA metabolism in numerous prokaryotic organisms and plant organelles containing RNase J orthologs.

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