Article

Precursor-product discrimination by La protein during tRNA metabolism.

Intramural Research Program, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.
Nature Structural & Molecular Biology (Impact Factor: 11.63). 05/2009; 16(4):430-7. DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.1573
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT La proteins bind pre-tRNAs at their UUU-3'OH ends, facilitating their maturation. Although the mechanism by which La binds pre-tRNA 3' trailers is known, the function of the RNA binding beta-sheet surface of the RNA-recognition motif (RRM1) is unknown. How La dissociates from UUU-3'OH-containing trailers after 3' processing is also unknown. Here we show that La preferentially binds pre-tRNAs over processed tRNAs or 3' trailer products through coupled use of two sites: one on the La motif and another on the RRM1 beta-surface that binds elsewhere on tRNA. Two sites provide stable pre-tRNA binding, whereas the processed tRNA and 3' trailer are released from their single sites relatively fast. RRM1 loop-3 mutations decrease affinity for pre-tRNA and tRNA, but not for the UUU-3'OH trailer, and impair tRNA maturation in vivo. We propose that RRM1 functions in activities that are more complex than UUU-3'OH binding. Accordingly, the RRM1 mutations also impair an RNA chaperone activity of La. The results suggest how La distinguishes precursor from product RNAs, allowing it to recycle onto a new pre-tRNA.

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