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Nat Struct Biol. 2002 Oct;9(10):740-4.

Induced structural changes of 7SL RNA during the assembly of human signal recognition particle.

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  • 1MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 2QH, UK.


The eukaryotic signal recognition particle (SRP) is a cytoplasmic ribonucleoprotein particle that targets secretory and membrane proteins to the endoplasmic reticulum. The binding of SRP54 to the S domain of 7SL RNA is highly dependent on SRP19. Here we present the crystal structure of a human SRP ternary complex consisting of SRP19, the M domain of SRP54 and the S domain of 7SL RNA. Upon binding of the M domain of SRP54 to the 7SL RNA-SRP19 complex, the asymmetric loop of helix 8 in 7SL RNA collapses. The bases of the four nucleotides in the long strand of the asymmetric loop continuously stack and interact with the M domain, whereas the two adenines in the short strand flip out and form two A-minor motifs with helix 6. This stabilizing interaction is only possible when helix 6 has been positioned parallel to helix 8 by the prior binding of SRP19 to the tetraloops of helices 6 and 8. Hence, the crystal structure of the ternary complex suggests why SRP19 is necessary for the stable binding of SRP54 to the S domain RNA.

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