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RNA. 2012 Sep;18(9):1597-604. doi: 10.1261/rna.034447.112. Epub 2012 Jul 30.

The interaction between the yeast telomerase RNA and the Est1 protein requires three structural elements.

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Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, CA 92037-1099, USA.


In the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the telomerase enzyme is composed of a 1.3-kb TLC1 RNA that forms a complex with Est2 (the catalytic subunit) and two regulatory proteins, Est1 and Est3. Previous work has identified a conserved 5-nt bulge, present in a long helical arm of TLC1, which mediates binding of Est1 to TLC1. However, increased expression of Est1 can bypass the consequences of removal of this RNA bulge, indicating that there are additional binding site(s) for Est1 on TLC1. We report here that a conserved single-stranded internal loop immediately adjacent to the bulge is also required for the Est1-RNA interaction; furthermore, a TLC1 variant that lacks this internal loop but retains the bulge cannot be suppressed by Est1 overexpression, arguing that the internal loop may be a more critical element for Est1 binding. An additional structural feature consisting of a single-stranded region at the base of the helix containing the bulge and internal loop also contributes to recognition of TLC1 by Est1, potentially by providing flexibility to this helical arm. Association of Est1 with each of these TLC1 motifs was assessed using a highly sensitive biochemical assay that simultaneously monitors the relative levels of the Est1 and Est2 proteins in the telomerase complex. The identification of three elements of TLC1 that are required for Est1 association provides a detailed view of this particular protein-RNA interaction.

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