The design and catalytic properties of a simplified ribonuclease P RNA

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Science  30 Jun 1989:
Vol. 244, Issue 4912, pp. 1569-1571
DOI: 10.1126/science.2472671


Ribonuclease P (RNase P) RNA is the catalytic moiety of the ribonucleoprotein enzyme that removes precursor sequences from the 5' ends of pre-transfer RNAs in eubacteria. Phylogenetic variation according to recently proposed secondary structure models was used to identify structural elements of the RNase P RNA that are dispensable for catalysis. A simplified RNase P RNA that consists only of evolutionarily conserved features was designed, synthesized, and characterized. Although the simplified RNA (Min 1 RNA) is only 263 nucleotides in length, in contrast to the 354 to 417 nucleotides of naturally occurring RNase P RNAs, its specificity of pre-tRNA cleavage is identical to that of the native enzymes. Moreover, the catalytic efficiencies of the Min 1 RNA and the native RNA enzymes are similar. These results focus the search for the catalytic elements of RNase P RNAs to their conserved structure.

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