Metal ion cooperativity in Escherichia coli RNase P RNA
Sammanfattning: RNase P is an essential ribonuclease responsible for removal of the 5’ leader of tRNA precursors. Bacterial RNase P consists of an RNA subunit and a small basic protein. The catalytic activity is associated with the RNA subunit, i.e. bacterial RNase P RNA is a ribozyme. The protein subunit is, however, essential for activity in vivo. RNase P RNA, as well as the holoenzyme, requires the presence of divalent metal ions for activity. The aim of this thesis was to increase our understanding of the catalytic mechanism of RNase P RNA mediated cleavage. The importance of the nucleotides close to the cleavage site and the roles of divalent metal ions in RNase P RNA-catalyzed reaction were investigated. Escherichia coli RNase P RNA (M1 RNA) was used as a model system.It was shown that different metal ions have differential effects on cleavage site recognition. Cleavage activity was rescued by mixing metal ions that do not promote cleavage activity by themselves. This suggests that efficient and correct cleavage is the result of metal ion cooperativity in the RNase P RNA-mediated cleavage reaction. The results suggested that one of the metal ions involved in this cooperativity is positioned in the vicinity of a well-known interaction between RNase P RNA and its substrate. Based on my studies on how different metal ions bind to RNA and influence its activity we raise the interesting possibility that the activity of biocatalysts that depend on RNA for activity are up- or downregulated depending on the intracellular concentrations of the bulk biological metal ions Mg2+ and Ca2+.The nucleotides upstream of the cleavage site in the substrate were found to influence the cleavage efficiency. This was not exclusively due to intermolecular base pairing within the substrate but also dependent on the identities of the nucleotides at position –2 and –1. The strength of the base pair at position –1/+73 was demonstrated to affect cleavage efficiency. These observations are in keeping with previous suggestion that the nucleotides close to the cleavage site are important for RNase P cleavage. We conclude that the residue at -1 is a positive determinant for cleavage by RNase P. Hence, my studies extend our understanding of the RNase P cleavage site recognition process.
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