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Biochim Biophys Acta. 1978 Apr 27;518(2):277-89.

How much is secondary structure responsible for resistance of double-stranded RNA to pancreatic ribonuclease A?


1. Double-stranded f2 sus11 or Qbeta RNAs, resistant to bovine pancreatic RNAase A in 0.15 M NaCl/0.015 M sodium citrate (SSC), are quickly and completely degraded at 10-fold lower ionic strength (0.1 X SSC) under otherwise similar conditions. At this ionic strength the secondary structure of double-stranded RNA is maintained, as judged by the following: (a) the unchanged resistance of double-stranded RNA and DNA, under similar low ionic strength conditions, to nuclease S1 from Aspergillus oryzae, in contrast with the sensitivity of the corresponding denatured nucleic acids to this enzyme, specific for single-stranded RNA and DNA; (b) the co-operative pattern of the thermal-transition profile of double-stranded RNA (with a Tm of 89 degrees C) in 0.1 X SSC. 2. Whereas in SSC bovine seminal RNAase (RNAase BS-1) and whale pancreatic RNAase show an activity on double-stranded RNA significantly higher than that of RNAase A, in 0.1 X SSC the activity of the latter enzyme on this substrate becomes distinctly higher than that of RNAase BS-1, and similar to that of whale RNAase. 3. From these results it is deduced that the secondary structure is probably not the only nor the most important variable in determining the susceptibility double-stranded RNA to ribonuclease. Other factors, such as the effect of ionic strength on the enzyme and/or the binding of enzyme to nucleic acids, may play an important role in the process of double-stranded RNA degradation by ribonucleases specific for single-stranded RNA.

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