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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 May 8;109(19):7292-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1201085109. Epub 2012 Apr 24.

RNA unwinding by the Trf4/Air2/Mtr4 polyadenylation (TRAMP) complex.

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Center for RNA Molecular Biology, Department of Biochemistry, School of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA.


Many RNA-processing events in the cell nucleus involve the Trf4/Air2/Mtr4 polyadenylation (TRAMP) complex, which contains the poly(A) polymerase Trf4p, the Zn-knuckle protein Air2p, and the RNA helicase Mtr4p. TRAMP polyadenylates RNAs designated for processing by the nuclear exosome. In addition, TRAMP functions as an exosome cofactor during RNA degradation, and it has been speculated that this role involves disruption of RNA secondary structure. However, it is unknown whether TRAMP displays RNA unwinding activity. It is also not clear how unwinding would be coordinated with polyadenylation and the function of the RNA helicase Mtr4p in modulating poly(A) addition. Here, we show that TRAMP robustly unwinds RNA duplexes. The unwinding activity of Mtr4p is significantly stimulated by Trf4p/Air2p, but the stimulation of Mtr4p does not depend on ongoing polyadenylation. Nonetheless, polyadenylation enables TRAMP to unwind RNA substrates that it otherwise cannot separate. Moreover, TRAMP displays optimal unwinding activity on substrates with a minimal Mtr4p binding site comprised of adenylates. Our results suggest a model for coordination between unwinding and polyadenylation activities by TRAMP that reveals remarkable synergy between helicase and poly(A) polymerase.

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