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J Mol Biol. 2003 May 30;329(2):229-38.

Structural requirement for Mg2+ binding in the group I intron core.

Author information

1
T.C. Jenkins Department of Biophysics, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218-4118, USA.

Abstract

Divalent metal ions are required for splicing of group I introns, but their role in maintaining the structure of the active site is still under investigation. Ribonuclease and hydroxyl radical footprinting of a small group I intron from Azoarcus pre-tRNA(Ile) showed that tertiary interactions between helical domains are stable in a variety of cations. Only Mg(2+), however, induced a conformational change in the intron core that correlates with self-splicing activity. Three metal ion binding sites in the catalytic core were identified by Tb(III)-dependent cleavage. Two of these are near bound substrates in a three-dimensional model of the ribozyme. A third metal ion site is near an A minor motif in P3. In the pre-tRNA, Tb(3+) cleavage was redirected to the 5' and 3' splice sites, consistent with metal-dependent activation of splice site phosphodiesters. The results show that many counterions induce global folding, but organization of the group I active site is specifically linked to Mg(2+) binding at a few sites.

PMID:
12758072
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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