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Cell. 2005 May 20;121(4):529-39.

Structural insights into RNA quality control: the Ro autoantigen binds misfolded RNAs via its central cavity.

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Department of Cell Biology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06510, USA.


The Ro 60 kDa autoantigen is a major target of the immune response in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus. In vertebrate cells, Ro binds misfolded small RNAs and likely functions in RNA quality control. In eukaryotes and bacteria, Ro also associates with small RNAs called Y RNAs. We present structures of unliganded Ro and Ro complexed with two RNAs at 1.95 and 2.2 A resolution, respectively. Ro consists of a von Willebrand factor A domain and a doughnut-shaped domain composed of HEAT repeats. In the complex, a fragment of Y RNA binds on the outer surface of the HEAT-repeat ring, and single-stranded RNA binds in the toroid hole. Mutagenesis supports a binding site for misfolded RNAs that encompasses both sites, with a single-stranded end inserted into the toroid cavity. Our experiments suggest that one role of Y RNAs may be to regulate access of other RNAs to Ro.

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