Probing the substrate specificity of the bacterial Pnkp/Hen1 RNA repair system using synthetic RNAs.

Department of Biochemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801, USA.
RNA (Impact Factor: 4.62). 12/2011; 18(2):335-44. DOI: 10.1261/rna.030502.111
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Ribotoxins cleave essential RNAs involved in protein synthesis as a strategy for cell killing. RNA repair systems exist in nature to counteract the lethal actions of ribotoxins, as first demonstrated by the RNA repair system from bacteriophage T4 25 yr ago. Recently, we found that two bacterial proteins, named Pnkp and Hen1, form a stable complex and are able to repair ribotoxin-cleaved tRNAs in vitro. However, unlike the well-studied T4 RNA repair system, the natural RNA substrates of the bacterial Pnkp/Hen1 RNA repair system are unknown. Here we present comprehensive RNA repair assays with the recombinant Pnkp/Hen1 proteins from Anabaena variabilis using a total of 33 different RNAs as substrates that might mimic various damaged forms of RNAs present in living cells. We found that unlike the RNA repair system from bacteriophage T4, the bacterial Pnkp/Hen1 RNA repair system exhibits broad substrate specificity. Based on the experimental data presented here, a model of preferred RNA substrates of the Pnkp/Hen1 repair system is proposed.

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    ABSTRACT: Clostridium thermocellum polynucleotide kinase (CthPnk), the 5' end-healing module of a bacterial RNA repair system, catalyzes reversible phosphoryl transfer from an NTP donor to a 5'-OH polynucleotide acceptor. Here we report the crystal structures of CthPnk-D38N in a Michaelis complex with GTP•Mg(2+) and a 5'-OH oligonucleotide and a product complex with GDP•Mg(2+) and a 5'-PO4 oligonucleotide. The O5' nucleophile is situated 3.0 Å from the GTP γ phosphorus in the Michaelis complex, where it is coordinated by Asn38 and is apical to the bridging β phosphate oxygen of the GDP leaving group. In the product complex, the transferred phosphate has undergone stereochemical inversion and Asn38 coordinates the 5'-bridging phosphate oxygen of the oligonucleotide. The D38N enzyme is poised for catalysis, but cannot execute because it lacks Asp38-hereby implicated as the essential general base catalyst that abstracts a proton from the 5'-OH during the kinase reaction. Asp38 serves as a general acid catalyst during the 'reverse kinase' reaction by donating a proton to the O5' leaving group of the 5'-PO4 strand. The acceptor strand binding mode of CthPnk is distinct from that of bacteriophage T4 Pnk.
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