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J Biol Chem. 2006 Sep 15;281(37):27046-51. Epub 2006 Jul 19.

Retention of core catalytic functions by a conserved minimal ribonuclease E peptide that lacks the domain required for tetramer formation.

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Department of Structural Biology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California 94305, USA.


Ribonuclease E (RNase E) is a multifunctional endoribonuclease that has been evolutionarily conserved in both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. X-ray crystallography and biochemical studies have concluded that the Escherichia coli RNase E protein functions as a homotetramer formed by Zn linkage of dimers within a region extending from amino acid residues 416 through 529 of the 116-kDa protein. Using fragments of RNase E proteins from E. coli and Haemophilus influenzae, we show here that RNase E derivatives that are as short as 395 amino acid residues and that lack the Zn-link region shown previously to be essential for tetramer formation (i.e. amino acid residues 400-415) are catalytically active enzymes that retain the 5' to 3' scanning ability and cleavage site specificity characteristic of full-length RNase E and that also confer colony forming ability on rne null mutant bacteria. Further truncation leads to loss of these properties. Our results, which identify a minimal catalytically active RNase E sequence, indicate that contrary to current models, a tetrameric quaternary structure is not required for RNase E to carry out its core enzymatic functions.

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