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J Mol Biol. 2000 May 12;298(4):559-65.

Effects of phosphorothioate modifications on precursor tRNA processing by eukaryotic RNase P enzymes.

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Institut für Biochemie, Medizinische Universität zu Lübeck, Ratzeburger Allee 160, Lübeck, D-23538, Germany.


The cleavage mechanism has been studied for nuclear RNase P from Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Homo sapiens sapiens and Dictyostelium discoideum, representing distantly related branches of the Eukarya. This was accomplished by using precursor tRNAs (ptRNAs) carrying a single Rp or Sp-phosphorothioate modification at the normal RNase P cleavage site (position -1/+1). All three eukaryotic RNase P enzymes cleaved the Sp-diastereomeric ptRNA exclusively one nucleotide upstream (position -2/-1) of the modified canonical cleavage site. Rp-diastereomeric ptRNA was cleaved with low efficiency at the modified -1/+1 site by human RNase P, at both the -2/-1 and -1/+1 site by yeast RNase P, and exclusively at the -2/-1 site by D. discoideum RNase P. The presence of Mn(2+ )and particularly Cd(2+) inhibited the activity of all three enzymes. Nevertheless, a Mn(2+ )rescue of cleavage at the modified -1/+1 site was observed with yeast RNase P and the Rp-diastereomeric ptRNA, consistent with direct metal ion coordination to the (pro)-Rp substituent during catalysis as observed for bacterial RNase P enzymes. In summary, our results have revealed common active-site constraints for eukaryotic and bacterial RNase P enzymes. In all cases, an Rp as well as an Sp-phosphorothioate modification at the RNase P cleavage site strongly interfered with the catalytic process, whereas substantial functional interference is essentially restricted to one of the two diastereomers in other RNA and protein-catalyzed hydrolysis reactions, such as those catalyzed by the Tetrahymena ribozyme and nuclease P1.

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