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J Biol Chem. 2011 Feb 11;286(6):4117-22. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.196766. Epub 2010 Nov 22.

RNA 3'-phosphate cyclase (RtcA) catalyzes ligase-like adenylylation of DNA and RNA 5'-monophosphate ends.

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Molecular Biology Program, Sloan-Kettering Institute, New York, New York 10065, USA.


RNA 3'-phosphate cyclase (Rtc) enzymes are a widely distributed family that catalyze the synthesis of RNA 2',3'-cyclic phosphate ends via an ATP-dependent pathway comprising three nucleotidyl transfer steps: reaction of Rtc with ATP to form a covalent Rtc-(histidinyl-N)-AMP intermediate and release PP(i); transfer of AMP from Rtc to an RNA 3'-phosphate to form an RNA(3')pp(5')A intermediate; and attack by the terminal nucleoside O2' on the 3'-phosphate to form an RNA 2',3'-cyclic phosphate product and release AMP. The chemical transformations of the cyclase pathway resemble those of RNA and DNA ligases, with the key distinction being that ligases covalently adenylylate 5'-phosphate ends en route to phosphodiester synthesis. Here we show that the catalytic repertoire of RNA cyclase overlaps that of ligases. We report that Escherichia coli RtcA catalyzes adenylylation of 5'-phosphate ends of DNA or RNA strands to form AppDNA and AppRNA products. The polynucleotide 5' modification reaction requires the His(309) nucleophile, signifying that it proceeds through a covalent RtcA-AMP intermediate. We established this point directly by demonstrating transfer of [(32)P]AMP from RtcA to a pDNA strand. RtcA readily adenylylated the 5'-phosphate at a 5'-PO(4)/3'-OH nick in duplex DNA but was unable to covert the nicked DNA-adenylate to a sealed phosphodiester. Our findings raise the prospect that cyclization of RNA 3'-ends might not be the only biochemical pathway in which Rtc enzymes participate; we discuss scenarios in which the 5'-adenylyltransferase of RtcA might play a role.

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