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J Biol Chem. 2004 Jul 23;279(30):31337-47. Epub 2004 Apr 13.

RNA substrate specificity and structure-guided mutational analysis of bacteriophage T4 RNA ligase 2.

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Molecular Biology and Structural Biology Programs, Sloan-Kettering Institute, New York, New York 10021, USA.


Here we report that bacteriophage T4 RNA ligase 2 (Rnl2) is an efficient catalyst of RNA ligation at a 3'-OH/5'-PO(4) nick in a double-stranded RNA or an RNA.DNA hybrid. The critical role of the template strand in approximating the reactive 3'-OH and 5'-PO(4) termini is underscored by the drastic reductions in the RNA-sealing activity of Rnl2 when the duplex substrates contain gaps or flaps instead of nicks. RNA nick joining requires ATP and a divalent cation cofactor (either Mg or Mn). Neither dATP, GTP, CTP, nor UTP can substitute for ATP. We identify by alanine scanning seven functionally important amino acids (Tyr-5, Arg-33, Lys-54, Gln-106, Asp-135, Arg-155, and Ser-170) within the N-terminal nucleotidyl-transferase domain of Rnl2 and impute specific roles for these residues based on the crystal structure of the AMP-bound enzyme. Mutational analysis of 14 conserved residues in the C-terminal domain of Rnl2 identifies 3 amino acids (Arg-266, Asp-292, and Glu-296) as essential for ligase activity. Our findings consolidate the evolutionary connections between bacteriophage Rnl2 and the RNA-editing ligases of kinetoplastid protozoa.

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