Evidence on the conformation of HeLa-cell 5.8S ribosomal ribonucleic acid from the reaction of specific cytidine residues with sodium bisulphite.
The reaction of HeLa-cell 5.8S rRNA with NaHSO3 under conditions in which exposed cytidine residues are deaminated to uridine was studied. It was possible to estimate the reactivities of most of the 46 cytidine residues in the nucleotide sequence by comparing 'fingerprints' of the bisulphite-treated RNA with those of untreated RNA. The findings were consistent with the main features of the secondary-structure model for mammalian 5.85S rRNA proposed by Nazar, Sitz, & Busch [J. Biol. Chem (1975) 250, 8591--8597]. Five out of six regions that are depicted in the model as single-stranded loops contain cytidine residues that are reactive towards bisulphite at 25 degrees C (the other loop contains no cytidine). The cytidine residue nearest to the 3'-terminus is also reactive. Several cytidines residues that are internally located within proposed double-helical regions show little or no reactivity towards bisulphite, but the cytidine residues of several C.G pairs at the ends of helical regions show some reactivity, and one of the proposed loops appears to contain six nucleotides, rather than the minimum of four suggested by the primary structure. Two cytidine residues that are thought to be 'looped out' by small helix imperfections also show some reactivity. (+info
Four dimers of lambda repressor bound to two suitably spaced pairs of lambda operators form octamers and DNA loops over large distances.
Transcription factors that are bound specifically to DNA often interact with each other over thousands of base pairs  . Large DNA loops resulting from such interactions have been observed in Escherichia coli with the transcription factors deoR  and NtrC , but such interactions are not, as yet, well understood. We propose that unique protein complexes, that are not present in solution, may form specifically on DNA. Their uniqueness would make it possible for them to interact tightly and specifically with each other. We used the repressor and operators of coliphage lambda to construct a model system in which to test our proposition. lambda repressor is a dimer at physiological concentrations, but forms tetramers and octamers at a hundredfold higher concentration. We predict that two lambda repressor dimers form a tetramer in vitro when bound to two lambda operators spaced 24 bp apart and that two such tetramers interact to form an octamer. We examined, in vitro, relaxed circular plasmid DNA in which such operator pairs were separated by 2,850 bp and 2,470 bp. Of these molecules, 29% formed loops as seen by electron microscopy (EM). The loop increased the tightness of binding of lambda repressor to lambda operator. Consequently, repression of the lambda PR promoter in vivo was increased fourfold by the presence of a second pair of lambda operators, separated by a distance of 3,600 bp. (+info
Tight binding of the 5' exon to domain I of a group II self-splicing intron requires completion of the intron active site.
Group II self-splicing requires the 5' exon to form base pairs with two stretches of intronic sequence (EBS1 and EBS2) which also bind the DNA target during retrotransposition of the intron. We have used dimethyl sulfate modification of bases to obtain footprints of the 5' exon on intron Pl.LSU/2 from the mitochondrion of the alga Pylaiella littoralis, as well as on truncated intron derivatives. Aside from the EBS sites, which are part of the same subdomain (ID) of ribozyme secondary structure, three distant adenines become either less or more sensitive to modification in the presence of the exon. Unexpectedly, one of these adenines in subdomain IC1 is footprinted only in the presence of the distal helix of domain V, which is involved in catalysis. While the loss of that footprint is accompanied by a 100-fold decrease in the affinity for the exon, both protection from modification and efficient binding can be restored by a separate domain V transcript, whose binding results in its own, concise footprint on domains I and III. Possible biological implications of the need for the group II active site to be complete in order to observe high-affinity binding of the 5' exon to domain I are discussed. (+info
Structural basis for the specificity of the initiation of HIV-1 reverse transcription.
Initiation of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) reverse transcription requires specific recognition of the viral genome, tRNA3Lys, which acts as primer, and reverse transcriptase (RT). The specificity of this ternary complex is mediated by intricate interactions between HIV-1 RNA and tRNA3Lys, but remains poorly understood at the three-dimensional level. We used chemical probing to gain insight into the three-dimensional structure of the viral RNA-tRNA3Lys complex, and enzymatic footprinting to delineate regions interacting with RT. These and previous experimental data were used to derive a three-dimensional model of the initiation complex. The viral RNA and tRNA3Lys form a compact structure in which the two RNAs fold into distinct structural domains. The extended interactions between these molecules are not directly recognized by RT. Rather, they favor RT binding by preventing steric clashes between the nucleic acids and the polymerase and inducing a viral RNA-tRNA3Lys conformation which fits perfectly into the nucleic acid binding cleft of RT. Recognition of the 3' end of tRNA3Lys and of the first template nucleotides by RT is favored by a kink in the template strand promoted by the short junctions present in the previously established secondary structure. (+info
Pseudouridine mapping in the Saccharomyces cerevisiae spliceosomal U small nuclear RNAs (snRNAs) reveals that pseudouridine synthase pus1p exhibits a dual substrate specificity for U2 snRNA and tRNA.
Pseudouridine (Psi) residues were localized in the Saccharomyces cerevisiae spliceosomal U small nuclear RNAs (UsnRNAs) by using the chemical mapping method. In contrast to vertebrate UsnRNAs, S. cerevisiae UsnRNAs contain only a few Psi residues, which are located in segments involved in intermolecular RNA-RNA or RNA-protein interactions. At these positions, UsnRNAs are universally modified. When yeast mutants disrupted for one of the several pseudouridine synthase genes (PUS1, PUS2, PUS3, and PUS4) or depleted in rRNA-pseudouridine synthase Cbf5p were tested for UsnRNA Psi content, only the loss of the Pus1p activity was found to affect Psi formation in spliceosomal UsnRNAs. Indeed, Psi44 formation in U2 snRNA was abolished. By using purified Pus1p enzyme and in vitro-produced U2 snRNA, Pus1p is shown here to catalyze Psi44 formation in the S. cerevisiae U2 snRNA. Thus, Pus1p is the first UsnRNA pseudouridine synthase characterized so far which exhibits a dual substrate specificity, acting on both tRNAs and U2 snRNA. As depletion of rRNA-pseudouridine synthase Cbf5p had no effect on UsnRNA Psi content, formation of Psi residues in S. cerevisiae UsnRNAs is not dependent on the Cbf5p-snoRNA guided mechanism. (+info
Comparative sequence analysis of human minisatellites showing meiotic repeat instability.
The highly variable human minisatellites MS32 (D1S8), MS31A (D7S21), and CEB1 (D2S90) all show recombination-based repeat instability restricted to the germline. Mutation usually results in polar interallelic conversion or occasionally in crossovers, which, at MS32 at least, extend into DNA flanking the repeat array, defining a localized recombination hotspot and suggesting that cis-acting elements in flanking DNA can influence repeat instability. Therefore, comparative sequence analysis was performed to search for common flanking elements associated with these unstable loci. All three minisatellites are located in GC-rich DNA abundant in dispersed and tandem repetitive elements. There were no significant sequence similarities between different loci upstream of the unstable end of the repeat array. Only one of the three loci showed clear evidence for putative coding sequences near the minisatellite. No consistent patterns of thermal stability or DNA secondary structure were shared by DNA flanking these loci. This work extends previous data on the genomic environment of minisatellites. In addition, this work suggests that recombinational activity is not controlled by primary or secondary characteristics of the DNA sequence flanking the repeat array and is not obviously associated with gene promoters as seen in yeast. (+info
Specificity from steric restrictions in the guanosine binding pocket of a group I ribozyme.
The 3' splice site of group I introns is defined, in part, by base pairs between the intron core and residues just upstream of the splice site, referred to as P9.0. We have studied the specificity imparted by P9.0 using the well-characterized L-21 Scal ribozyme from Tetrahymena by adding residues to the 5' end of the guanosine (G) that functions as a nucleophile in the oligonucleotide cleavage reaction: CCCUCUA5 (S) + NNG <--> CCCUCU + NNGA5. UCG, predicted to form two base pairs in P9.0, reacts with a (kcat/KM) value approximately 10-fold greater than G, consistent with previous results. Altering the bases that form P9.0 in both the trinucleotide G analog and the ribozyme affects the specificity in the manner predicted for base-pairing. Strikingly, oligonucleotides incapable of forming P9.0 react approximately 10-fold more slowly than G, for which the mispaired residues are simply absent. The observed specificity is consistent with a model in which the P9.0 site is sterically restricted such that an energetic penalty, not present for G, must be overcome by G analogs with 5' extensions. Shortening S to include only one residue 3' of the cleavage site (CCCUCUA) eliminates this penalty and uniformly enhances the reactions of matched and mismatched oligonucleotides relative to guanosine. These results suggest that the 3' portion of S occupies the P9.0 site, sterically interfering with binding of G analogs with 5' extensions. Similar steric effects may more generally allow structured RNAs to avoid formation of incorrect contacts, thereby helping to avoid kinetic traps during folding and enhancing cooperative formation of the correct structure. (+info
The influence of junction conformation on RNA cleavage by the hairpin ribozyme in its natural junction form.
In the natural form of the hairpin ribozyme the two loop-carrying duplexes that comprise the majority of essential bases for activity form two adjacent helical arms of a four-way RNA junction. In the present work we have manipulated the sequence around the junction in a way known to perturb the global folding properties. We find that replacement of the junction by a different sequence that has the same conformational properties as the natural sequence gives closely similar reaction rate and Arrhenius activation energy for the substrate cleavage reaction. By comparison, rotation of the natural sequence in order to alter the three-dimensional folding of the ribozyme leads to a tenfold reduction in the kinetics of cleavage. Replacement with the U1 four-way junction that is resistant to rotation into the antiparallel structure required to allow interaction between the loops also gives a tenfold reduction in cleavage rate. The results indicate that the conformation of the junction has a major influence on the catalytic activity of the ribozyme. The results are all consistent with a role for the junction in the provision of a framework by which the loops are presented for interaction in order to create the active form of the ribozyme. (+info