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Biochemistry. 2008 Aug 5;47(31):8130-8. doi: 10.1021/bi800401y. Epub 2008 Jul 3.

Studies of the interaction of the viral suppressor of RNA silencing protein p19 with small RNAs using fluorescence polarization.

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Steacie Institute for Molecular Sciences, National Research Council of Canada, 100 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, Canada K1A 0R6.


Tombusviruses use a 19 kDa protein (p19) as a suppressor of the RNA silencing pathway during infection. The p19 protein binds to short-interfering RNA (siRNA) as a dimer and shows a high selectivity for short duplex RNAs over other RNA species. Since p19 can bind to synthetic and RNA silencing generated small RNAs with little sequence dependence and with size selectivity, this protein has utility as a tool for studying RNA silencing pathways in eukaryotes. However, the ability of p19 to serve as a tool for studying RNA silencing pathways may be complicated by the presence of other endogenous small RNAs such as micro-RNAs (miRNAs). To understand the importance of endogenous small RNA components with respect to p19's ability to bind to siRNAs, we examined the interactions of p19 with human miR-122, a 23-nucleotide duplex miRNA containing several mismatched base pairs that is highly abundant in the liver. The binding characteristics were compared with those of an siRNA optimized against the human kinase CSK. The binding studies were performed using fluorescence polarization experiments on duplex oligonucleotides containing Cy3 dye labels at the 5'-end of one of the strands of RNA as well as electrophoretic gel mobility shift assays. Both methods indicate that the synthetic siRNA with no mismatches in base pairing bound with >3-fold selectivity over that of miR-122. Our results suggest that p19 can distinguish between siRNAs and miRNA species, although the difference in binding constants is not so large that interactions with endogenous miRNAs can be totally ignored.

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