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Biochimie. 2007 Dec;89(12):1528-38. Epub 2007 Aug 11.

RNase P of the Cyanophora paradoxa cyanelle: a plastid ribozyme.

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Institut für Pharmazeutische Chemie, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Marbacher Weg 6, D-35037 Marburg, Germany.


Ribonuclease P (RNase P) is a ribonucleoprotein enzyme that generates the mature 5' ends of tRNAs. Ubiquitous across all three kingdoms of life, the composition and functional contributions of the RNA and protein components of RNase P differ between the kingdoms. RNA-alone catalytic activity has been reported throughout bacteria, but only for some archaea, and only as trace activity for eukarya. Available information for RNase P from photosynthetic organelles points to large differences to bacterial as well as to eukaryotic RNase P: for spinach chloroplasts, protein-alone activity has been discussed; for RNase P from the cyanelle of the glaucophyte Cyanophora paradoxa, a type of organelle sharing properties of both cyanobacteria and chloroplasts, the proportion of protein was found to be around 80% rather than the usual 10% in bacteria. Furthermore, the latter RNase P was previously found catalytically inactive in the absence of protein under a variety of conditions; however, the RNA could be activated by a cyanobacterial protein, but not by the bacterial RNase P protein from Escherichia coli. Here we demonstrate that, under very high enzyme concentrations, the RNase P RNA from the cyanelle of C. paradoxa displays RNA-alone activity well above the detection level. Moreover, the RNA can be complemented to a functional holoenzyme by the E. coli RNase P protein, further supporting its overall bacterial-like architecture. Mutational analysis and domain swaps revealed that this A,U-rich cyanelle RNase P RNA is globally optimized but conformationally unstable, since changes as little as a single point mutation or a base pair identity switch at positions that are not part of the universally conserved catalytic core led to a complete loss of RNA-alone activity. Likely related to this low robustness, extensive structural changes towards an E. coli-type P5-7/P15-17 subdomain as a canonical interaction site for tRNA 3'-CCA termini could not be coaxed into increased ribozyme activity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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