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Biochemistry. 1997 Mar 18;36(11):3159-69.

The P4-P6 domain directs higher order folding of the Tetrahymena ribozyme core.

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Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06520, USA.


The active site of group I self-splicing introns occurs at the interface of two proposed structural domains. In the Tetrahymena intron, half of the catalytic core resides within the independently-folding P4-P6 domain while the other half belongs to a putative domain that includes helices P3, P7, P8, and P9 (P3-P9). To determine whether the P3-P9 region of the intron can also fold independently, we used Fe(II)-EDTA and dimethyl sulfate to probe the solvent accessibility of separate fragments of the Tetrahymena intron. These RNAs self-assemble into an active complex in trans, enabling analysis of their structural features both alone and within the complex. Our results show that while the P3-P9 region of the intron retains its secondary structure, most of the tertiary interactions within this region do not form stably in the absence of the P4-P6 domain. This indicates that the P4-P6 domain induces folding in the P3-P9 region, organizing the catalytic cleft between them. Thus the P4-P6 domain provides a scaffold for the folding of the Tetrahymena intron core.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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