Type of Document Dissertation Author Calvin, Kate URN etd-04062007-133544 Title Biochemical Characterization of the RNA Splicing Endonuclease Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department Molecular Biophysics, Institute of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Timothy Cross Committee Chair Brian Miller Committee Member Hong Li Committee Member Myra Hurt Committee Member Timothy Logan Committee Member Keywords
- Splicing Endonuclease
- RNA-Protein Interactions
- Structure-Function Studies
Date of Defense 2007-04-03 Availability unrestricted AbstractABSTRACT
In eukaryotes and archaea 5-25% of transfer RNA (tRNA) precursors contain intervening sequences, or introns, that interrupt the molecules’ functional regions. Because functional tRNA molecules are necessary for protein synthesis, removing these introns is essential to sustain life. tRNA introns are removed in a two-to-three step process mediated by three different proteins. The RNA splicing endonuclease acts first to cleave two phosphodiester bonds at the intron boundaries within the folded precursor RNAs. The endonuclease performs this function upon nuclear tRNA introns and all archaeal introns. It is well-established that in all organisms the endonuclease step in the splicing pathway is completely conserved, with evidence for the conservation of cleavage chemistry being provided by biochemical studies. However, no detailed information was previously available regarding the endonuclease’s specific mechanisms. This research addresses two key aspects of the splicing endonuclease mechanism, namely, substrate recognition and catalysis...………………………………………………...
Chapter 2 explores the structural elements in a phenotypical archaeal splicing endonuclease and its RNA substrate required for recognition and catalysis. These assays explicitly demonstrate the enzyme and substrate elements involved in recognition and binding. They also support previous findings regarding a conserved triad hypothesized to be catalytic and lay the foundation for the more in-depth studies in Chapter 3. Chapter 3 presents a series of kinetics experiments investigating this conserved triad in which kinetic parameters KM and k2 are obtained.
The primary substrate recognition elements in the endonuclease are strictly conserved. However, splicing endonucleases in different organisms are found to have different subunit compositions and substrate specificities. No biochemical studies to date have shed light on how this occurs. Chapter 4 presents studies exploring how the enzyme’s quaternary structure affects substrate recognition and cleavage. These studies are continued in Chapter 5, where it is demonstrated that enzyme assembly alone can dictate both substrate specificity and activity.
Taken in total, the work presented in this Dissertation provides significant insight regarding how the endonuclease precisely recognizes intron-exon junctions and accelerates the cleavage reaction. It also sheds considerable light on how enzyme subunit composition and quaternary structure relate to the mechanism of RNA recognition.
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