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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1995 Jul 18;92(15):6883-6.

The tRNA processing enzyme RNase T is essential for maturation of 5S RNA.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington 06030-3305, USA.


The maturation of 5S RNA in Escherichia coli is poorly understood. Although it is known that large precursors of 5S RNA accumulate in mutant cells lacking the endoribonuclease-RNase E, almost nothing is known about how the mature 5' and 3' termini of these molecules are generated. We have examined 5S RNA maturation in wild-type and single- or multiple-exoribonuclease-deficient cells by Northern blot and primer-extension analysis. Our results indicate that no mature 5S RNA is made in RNase T-deficient strains. Rather, 5S RNA precursors containing predominantly 2 extra nucleotides at the 3' end accumulate. Apparently, these 5S RNAs are functional inasmuch as mutant cells are viable, growing only slightly slower than wild type. Purified RNase T can remove the extra 3' residues, showing that it is directly involved in the trimming reaction. In contrast, mutations affecting other 3' exoribonucleases have no effect on 5S RNA maturation. Approximately 90% of the 5S RNAs in both wild-type and RNase T- cells contain mature 5' termini, indicating that 5' processing is independent of RNase T action. These data identify the enzyme responsible for generating the mature 3' terminus of 5S RNA molecules and also demonstrate that a completely processed 5S RNA molecule is not essential for cell survival.

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