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Identification of Spen as a Crucial Factor for Xist Function through Forward Genetic Screening in Haploid Embryonic Stem Cells.
Cell Rep, 2015 Jul 28; 12 (4): 554-561
In mammals, the noncoding Xist RNA triggers transcriptional silencing of one of the two X chromosomes in female cells. Here, we report a genetic screen for silencing factors in X chromosome inactivation using haploid mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs) that carry an engineered selectable reporter system. This system was able to identify several candidate factors that are genetically required for chromosomal repression by Xist. Among the list of candidates, we identify the RNA-binding protein Spen, the homolog of split ends. Independent validation through gene deletion in ESCs confirms that Spen is required for gene repression by Xist. However, Spen is not required for Xist RNA localization and the recruitment of chromatin modifications, including Polycomb protein Ezh2. The identification of Spen opens avenues for further investigation into the gene-silencing pathway of Xist and shows the usefulness of haploid ESCs for genetic screening of epigenetic pathways.
Polyuridylation in Eukaryotes: A 3'-End Modification Regulating RNA Life.
Biomed Res Int, 2015; 2015 : 968127
In eukaryotes, mRNA polyadenylation is a well-known modification that is essential for many aspects of the protein-coding RNAs life cycle. However, modification of the 3' terminal nucleotide within various RNA molecules is a general and conserved process that broadly modulates RNA function in all kingdoms of life. Numerous types of modifications have been characterized, which are generally specific for a given type of RNA such as the CCA addition found in tRNAs. In recent years, the addition of nontemplated uridine nucleotides or uridylation has been shown to occur in various types of RNA molecules and in various cellular compartments with significantly different outcomes. Indeed, uridylation is able to alter RNA half-life both in positive and in negative ways, highlighting the importance of the enzymes in charge of performing this modification. The present review aims at summarizing the current knowledge on the various processes leading to RNA 3'-end uridylation and on their potential impacts in various diseases.
An artificial PPR scaffold for programmable RNA recognition.
Nat Commun, 2014 Dec 17; 5 : 5729
Pentatricopeptide repeat (PPR) proteins control diverse aspects of RNA metabolism in eukaryotic cells. Although recent computational and structural studies have provided insights into RNA recognition by PPR proteins, their highly insoluble nature and inconsistencies between predicted and observed modes of RNA binding have restricted our understanding of their biological functions and their use as tools. Here we use a consensus design strategy to create artificial PPR domains that are structurally robust and can be programmed for sequence-specific RNA binding. The atomic structures of these artificial PPR domains elucidate the structural basis for their stability and modelling of RNA-protein interactions provides mechanistic insights into the importance of RNA-binding residues and suggests modes of PPR-RNA association. The modular mode of RNA binding by PPR proteins holds great promise for the engineering of new tools to target RNA and to understand the mechanisms of gene regulation by natural PPR proteins.
The crystal structure of the Split End protein SHARP adds a new layer of complexity to proteins containing RNA recognition motifs.
Nucleic Acids Res, 2014 Jun; 42 (10): 6742-6752
The Split Ends (SPEN) protein was originally discovered in Drosophila in the late 1990s. Since then, homologous proteins have been identified in eukaryotic species ranging from plants to humans. Every family member contains three predicted RNA recognition motifs (RRMs) in the N-terminal region of the protein. We have determined the crystal structure of the region of the human SPEN homolog that contains these RRMs-the SMRT/HDAC1 Associated Repressor Protein (SHARP), at 2.0 Å resolution. SHARP is a co-regulator of the nuclear receptors. We demonstrate that two of the three RRMs, namely RRM3 and RRM4, interact via a highly conserved interface. Furthermore, we show that the RRM3-RRM4 block is the main platform mediating the stable association with the H12-H13 substructure found in the steroid receptor RNA activator (SRA), a long, non-coding RNA previously shown to play a crucial role in nuclear receptor transcriptional regulation. We determine that SHARP association with SRA relies on both single- and double-stranded RNA sequences. The crystal structure of the SHARP-RRM fragment, together with the associated RNA-binding studies, extend the repertoire of nucleic acid binding properties of RRM domains suggesting a new hypothesis for a better understanding of SPEN protein functions.
A critical switch in the enzymatic properties of the Cid1 protein deciphered from its product-bound crystal structure.
Nucleic Acids Res, 2014 Mar; 42 (5): 3372-3380
The addition of uridine nucleotide by the poly(U) polymerase (PUP) enzymes has a demonstrated impact on various classes of RNAs such as microRNAs (miRNAs), histone-encoding RNAs and messenger RNAs. Cid1 protein is a member of the PUP family. We solved the crystal structure of Cid1 in complex with non-hydrolyzable UMPNPP and a short dinucleotide compound ApU. These structures revealed new residues involved in substrate/product stabilization. In particular, one of the three catalytic aspartate residues explains the RNA dependence of its PUP activity. Moreover, other residues such as residue N165 or the β-trapdoor are shown to be critical for Cid1 activity. We finally suggest that the length and sequence of Cid1 substrate RNA influence the balance between Cid1's processive and distributive activities. We propose that particular processes regulated by PUPs require the enzymes to switch between the two types of activity as shown for the miRNA biogenesis where PUPs can either promote DICER cleavage via short U-tail or trigger miRNA degradation by adding longer poly(U) tail. The enzymatic properties of these enzymes may be critical for determining their particular function in vivo.
Steroid receptor RNA activator (SRA) modification by the human pseudouridine synthase 1 (hPus1p): RNA binding, activity, and atomic model.
PLoS One, 2014; 9 (4): e94610
The most abundant of the modified nucleosides, and once considered as the "fifth" nucleotide in RNA, is pseudouridine, which results from the action of pseudouridine synthases. Recently, the mammalian pseudouridine synthase 1 (hPus1p) has been reported to modulate class I and class II nuclear receptor responses through its ability to modify the Steroid receptor RNA Activator (SRA). These findings highlight a new level of regulation in nuclear receptor (NR)-mediated transcriptional responses. We have characterised the RNA association and activity of the human Pus1p enzyme with its unusual SRA substrate. We validate that the minimal RNA fragment within SRA, named H7, is necessary for both the association and modification by hPus1p. Furthermore, we have determined the crystal structure of the catalytic domain of hPus1p at 2.0 Å resolution, alone and in a complex with several molecules present during crystallisation. This model shows an extended C-terminal helix specifically found in the eukaryotic protein, which may prevent the enzyme from forming a homodimer, both in the crystal lattice and in solution. Our biochemical and structural data help to understand the hPus1p active site architecture, and detail its particular requirements with regard to one of its nuclear substrates, the non-coding RNA SRA.
Functional implications from the Cid1 poly(U) polymerase crystal structure.
Structure, 2012 Jun 6; 20 (6): 977-986
In eukaryotes, mRNA degradation begins with poly(A) tail removal, followed by decapping, and the mRNA body is degraded by exonucleases. In recent years, the major influence of 3'-end uridylation as a regulatory step within several RNA degradation pathways has generated significant attention toward the responsible enzymes, which are called poly(U) polymerases (PUPs). We determined the atomic structure of the Cid1 protein, the founding member of the PUP family, in its UTP-bound form, allowing unambiguous positioning of the UTP molecule. Our data also suggest that the RNA substrate accommodation and product translocation by the Cid1 protein rely on local and global movements of the enzyme. Supplemented by point mutations, the atomic model is used to propose a catalytic cycle. Our study underlines the Cid1 RNA binding properties, a feature with critical implications for miRNAs, histone mRNAs, and, more generally, cellular RNA degradation.
Structural basis of transcriptional gene silencing mediated by Arabidopsis MOM1.
PLoS Genet, 2012 Feb; 8 (2): e1002484
Shifts between epigenetic states of transcriptional activity are typically correlated with changes in epigenetic marks. However, exceptions to this rule suggest the existence of additional, as yet uncharacterized, layers of epigenetic regulation. MOM1, a protein of 2,001 amino acids that acts as a transcriptional silencer, represents such an exception. Here we define the 82 amino acid domain called CMM2 (Conserved MOM1 Motif 2) as a minimal MOM1 fragment capable of transcriptional regulation. As determined by X-ray crystallography, this motif folds into an unusual hendecad-based coiled-coil. Structure-based mutagenesis followed by transgenic complementation tests in plants demonstrate that CMM2 and its dimerization are effective for transcriptional suppression at chromosomal loci co-regulated by MOM1 and the siRNA pathway but not at loci controlled by MOM1 in an siRNA-independent fashion. These results reveal a surprising separation of epigenetic activities that enable the single, large MOM1 protein to coordinate cooperating mechanisms of epigenetic regulation.
Expression, crystallization and preliminary X-ray diffraction analysis of the CMM2 region of the Arabidopsis thaliana Morpheus' molecule 1 protein.
Acta Crystallogr Sect F Struct Biol Cryst Commun, 2010 Aug 1; 66 (Pt 8): 916-918
Of the known epigenetic control regulators found in plants, the Morpheus' molecule 1 (MOM1) protein is atypical in that the deletion of MOM1 does not affect the level of epigenetic marks controlling the transcriptional status of the genome. A short 197-amino-acid fragment of the MOM1 protein sequence can complement MOM1 deletion when coupled to a nuclear localization signal, suggesting that this region contains a functional domain that compensates for the loss of the full-length protein. Numerous constructs centred on the highly conserved MOM1 motif 2 (CMM2) present in these 197 residues have been generated and expressed in Escherichia coli. Following purification and crystallization screening, diamond-shaped single crystals were obtained that diffracted to approximately 3.2 A resolution. They belonged to the trigonal space group P3(1)21 (or P3(2)21), with unit-cell parameters a=85.64, c=292.74 A. Structure determination is ongoing.
Structural basis of thiamine pyrophosphate analogues binding to the eukaryotic riboswitch.
J Am Chem Soc, 2008 Jul 2; 130 (26): 8116-8117
The thiamine pyrophosphate (TPP)-sensing riboswitch is the only riboswitch found in eukaryotes. In plants, TPP regulates its own production by binding to the 3' untranslated region of the mRNA encoding ThiC, a critical enzyme in thiamine biosynthesis, which promotes the formation of an unstable splicing variant. In order to better understand the molecular basis of TPP-analogue binding to the eukaryotic TPP-responsive riboswitch, we have determined the crystal structures of the Arabidopsis thaliana TPP-riboswitch in complex with oxythiamine pyrophosphate (OTPP) and with the antimicrobial compound pyrithiamine pyrophosphate (PTPP). The OTPP-riboswitch complex reveals that the pyrimidine ring of OTPP is stabilized in its enol form in order to retain key interactions with guanosine 28 of the riboswitch previously observed in the TPP complex. The structure of PTPP in complex with the riboswitch shows that the base moiety of guanosine 60 undergoes a conformational change to cradle the pyridine ring of the PTPP. Structural information from these complexes has implications for the design of novel antimicrobials targeting TPP-sensing riboswitches.
Structure of the eukaryotic thiamine pyrophosphate riboswitch with its regulatory ligand.
Science, 2006 May 26; 312 (5777): 1208-1211
Riboswitches are untranslated regions of messenger RNA, which adopt alternate structures depending on the binding of specific metabolites. Such conformational switching regulates the expression of proteins involved in the biosynthesis of riboswitch substrates. Here, we present the 2.9 angstrom-resolution crystal structure of the eukaryotic Arabidopsis thaliana thiamine pyrophosphate (TPP)-specific riboswitch in complex with its natural ligand. The riboswitch specifically recognizes the TPP via conserved residues located within two highly distorted parallel "sensor" helices. The structure provides the basis for understanding the reorganization of the riboswitch fold upon TPP binding and explains the mechanism of resistance to the antibiotic pyrithiamine.
X-ray structure and activity of the yeast Pop2 protein: a nuclease subunit of the mRNA deadenylase complex.
EMBO Rep, 2003 Dec; 4 (12): 1150-1155
In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a large complex, known as the Ccr4-Not complex, containing two nucleases, is responsible for mRNA deadenylation. One of these nucleases is called Pop2 and has been identified by similarity with PARN, a human poly(A) nuclease. Here, we present the crystal structure of the nuclease domain of Pop2 at 2.3 A resolution. The domain has the fold of the DnaQ family and represents the first structure of an RNase from the DEDD superfamily. Despite the presence of two non-canonical residues in the active site, the domain displays RNase activity on a broad range of RNA substrates. Site-directed mutagenesis of active-site residues demonstrates the intrinsic ability of the Pop2 RNase D domain to digest RNA. This first structure of a nuclease involved in the 3'-5' deadenylation of mRNA in yeast provides information for the understanding of the mechanism by which the Ccr4-Not complex achieves its functions.
Crystal structures of the Pyrococcus abyssi Sm core and its complex with RNA. Common features of RNA binding in archaea and eukarya.
J Biol Chem, 2003 Jan 10; 278 (2): 1239-1247
The Sm proteins are conserved in all three domains of life and are always associated with U-rich RNA sequences. Their proposed function is to mediate RNA-RNA interactions. We present here the crystal structures of Pyrococcus abyssi Sm protein (PA-Sm1) and its complex with a uridine heptamer. The overall structure of the protein complex, a heptameric ring with a central cavity, is similar to that proposed for the eukaryotic Sm core complex and found for other archaeal Sm proteins. RNA molecules bind to the protein at two different sites. They interact specifically inside the ring with three highly conserved residues, defining the uridine-binding pocket. In addition, nucleotides also interact on the surface formed by the N-terminal alpha-helix as well as a conserved aromatic residue in beta-strand 2 of the PA-Sm1 protein. The mutation of this conserved aromatic residue shows the importance of this second site for the discrimination between RNA sequences. Given the high structural homology between archaeal and eukaryotic Sm proteins, the PA-Sm1.RNA complex provides a model for how the small nuclear RNA contacts the Sm proteins in the Sm core. In addition, it suggests how Sm proteins might exert their function as modulators of RNA-RNA interactions.