Background: Human cells depend critically on the signal recognition particle (SRP) for the sorting and delivery of their proteins. The SRP is a ribonucleoprotein complex which binds to signal sequences of secretory polypeptides as they emerge from the ribosome. Among the six proteins of the eukaryotic SRP, the largest protein, SRP72, is essential for protein targeting and possesses a poorly characterized RNA binding domain.Results: We delineated the minimal region of SRP72 capable of forming a stable complex with an SRP RNA fragment. The region encompassed residues 545 to 585 of the full-length human SRP72 and contained a lysine-rich cluster (KKKKKKKKGK) at postions 552 to 561 as well as a conserved Pfam motif with the sequence PDPXRWLPXXER at positions 572 to 583. We demonstrated by site-directed mutagenesis that both regions participated in the formation of a complex with the RNA. In agreement with biochemical data and results from chymotryptic digestion experiments, molecular modeling of SRP72 implied that the invariant W577 was located inside the predicted structure of an RNA binding domain. The 11-nucleotide 5e motif contained within the SRP RNA fragment was shown by comparative electrophoresis on native polyacrylamide gels to conform to an RNA kink-turn. The model of the complex suggested that the conserved A240 of the K-turn, previously identified as being essential for the binding to SRP72, could protrude into a groove of the SRP72 RNA binding domain, similar but not identical to how other K-turn recognizing proteins interact with RNA.Conclusions: The results from the presented experiments provided insights into the molecular details of a functionally important and structurally interesting RNA-protein interaction. A model for how a ligand binding pocket of SRP72 can accommodate a new RNA K-turn in the 5e region of the eukaryotic SRP RNA is proposed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology