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J Biol Chem. 2009 May 29;284(22):15317-24. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M901368200. Epub 2009 Mar 31.

Analysis of a critical interaction within the archaeal box C/D small ribonucleoprotein complex.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado 80309-0215, USA.


In archaea and eukarya, box C/D ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complexes are responsible for 2'-O-methylation of tRNAs and rRNAs. The archaeal box C/D small RNP complex requires a small RNA component (sRNA) possessing Watson-Crick complementarity to the target RNA along with three proteins: L7Ae, Nop5p, and fibrillarin. Transfer of a methyl group from S-adenosylmethionine to the target RNA is performed by fibrillarin, which by itself has no affinity for the sRNA-target duplex. Instead, it is targeted to the site of methylation through association with Nop5p, which in turn binds to the L7Ae-sRNA complex. To understand how Nop5p serves as a bridge between the targeting and catalytic functions of the box C/D small RNP complex, we have employed alanine scanning to evaluate the interaction between the Pyrococcus horikoshii Nop5p domain and an L7Ae box C/D RNA complex. From these data, we were able to construct an isolated RNA-binding domain (Nop-RBD) that folds correctly as demonstrated by x-ray crystallography and binds to the L7Ae box C/D RNA complex with near wild type affinity. These data demonstrate that the Nop-RBD is an autonomously folding and functional module important for protein assembly in a number of complexes centered on the L7Ae-kinkturn RNP.

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