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EMBO J. 2011 Aug 2;30(19):4006-19. doi: 10.1038/emboj.2011.256.

A cluster of ribosome synthesis factors regulate pre-rRNA folding and 5.8S rRNA maturation by the Rat1 exonuclease.

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Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Biology and Centre for Systems Biology at Edinburgh, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland.


The 5'-exonuclease Rat1 degrades pre-rRNA spacer fragments and processes the 5'-ends of the 5.8S and 25S rRNAs. UV crosslinking revealed multiple Rat1-binding sites across the pre-rRNA, consistent with its known functions. The major 5.8S 5'-end is generated by Rat1 digestion of the internal transcribed spacer 1 (ITS1) spacer from cleavage site A(3). Processing from A(3) requires the 'A(3)-cluster' proteins, including Cic1, Erb1, Nop7, Nop12 and Nop15, which show interdependent pre-rRNA binding. Surprisingly, A(3)-cluster factors were not crosslinked close to site A(3), but bound sites around the 5.8S 3'- and 25S 5'-regions, which are base paired in mature ribosomes, and in the ITS2 spacer that separates these rRNAs. In contrast, Nop4, a protein required for endonucleolytic cleavage in ITS1, binds the pre-rRNA near the 5'-end of 5.8S. ITS2 was reported to undergo structural remodelling. In vivo chemical probing indicates that A(3)-cluster binding is required for this reorganization, potentially regulating the timing of processing. We predict that Nop4 and the A(3) cluster establish long-range interactions between the 5.8S and 25S rRNAs, which are subsequently maintained by ribosomal protein binding.

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