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Biochemistry. 1998 Jun 30;37(26):9409-16.

The protein component of Bacillus subtilis ribonuclease P increases catalytic efficiency by enhancing interactions with the 5' leader sequence of pre-tRNAAsp.

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Department of Biochemistry, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA.


Ribonuclease P (RNase P) is a ribonucleoprotein complex that catalyzes the formation of the mature 5' end of tRNA. To investigate the role of the protein component in enhancing the affinity of Bacillus subtilis RNase P for substrate (Kurz, J. C., Niranjanakumari, S., Fierke, C. A. (1998) Biochemistry 37, 2393), the kinetics and thermodynamics of binding and cleavage were analyzed for pre-tRNAAsp substrates containing 5' leader sequences of varying lengths (1-33 nucleotides). These data demonstrate that the cleavage rate constant catalyzed by the holoenzyme is not dependent on the leader length; however, the association rate constant for substrate binding to holoenzyme increases as the length of the leader increases, and this is reflected in enhanced substrate affinity of up to 4 kcal/mol. In particular, the protein component of RNase P stabilizes interactions with nucleotides at -2 and -5 in the 5' leader sequence of the pre-tRNA substrate. A 1 nucleotide leader decreases substrate affinity >/=15-fold compared to tRNAAsp due to ground-state destabilization of the enzyme-substrate complex. This destabilization is overcome by increasing the length of the leader to 2 nucleotides due to P RNA-pre-tRNA contacts that are stabilized by the P protein. The affinity of RNase P holoenzyme (but not RNA alone) for pre-tRNAAsp is further enhanced with a substrate containing a 5 nucleotide leader. These data indicate that novel direct or indirect interactions occur between the 5' leader sequence of pre-tRNAAsp and the protein component of RNase P.

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