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Nature. 1996 May 9;381(6578):169-72.

A DEAD-box RNA helicase in the Escherichia coli RNA degradosome.

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Nuffield Department of Clinical Biochemisstry and Imperial Cancer Research Fund Laboratories, Institute of Molecular Medicine, UK.


The Escherichia coli RNA degradosome is a multi-enzyme complex that contains the exoribonuclease polynucleotide phosphorylase (PNPase) and the endoribonuclease RNase E. Both enzymes are important in RNA processing and messenger RNA degradation. Here we report that enolase and RhlB are two other major components of the degradosome. Enolase is a glycolytic enzyme with an unknown role in RNA metabolism. RhlB is a member of the DEAD-box family of ATP-dependent RNA helicases, which are found in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes. We show that the degradosome has an ATP-dependent activity that aids the degradation of structured RNA by PNPase. Incubation of the degradosome with affinity-purified antibody against RhlB inhibited the ATP-stimulated RNA degradation. These results suggest that RhlB acts by unwinding RNA structures that impede the processive activity of PNPase. RhlB is thus an important enzyme in mRNA turnover.

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