Nop56p is a component of the box C/D small nucleolar ribonucleoprotein complexes that direct 2'-O-methylation of pre-rRNA during its maturation. Genetic analyses in yeast have shown that Nop56p plays important roles in the early steps of pre-rRNA processing. However, its precise function remains elusive, especially in higher eukaryotes. Here we describe the proteomic characterization of human Nop56p (hNop56p)-associated pre-ribosomal ribonucleoprotein complexes. Mass spectrometric analysis of purified pre-ribosomal ribonucleoprotein complexes identified 61 ribosomal proteins, 16 trans-acting factors probably involved in ribosome biogenesis, and 29 proteins whose function in ribosome biogenesis is unknown. Identification of pre-rRNA species within hNop56p-associated pre-ribosomal ribonucleoprotein complexes, coupled with the known functions of yeast orthologs of the probable trans-acting factors identified in human, demonstrated that hNop56p functions in the early to middle stages of 60 S subunit synthesis in human cells. Interestingly, the nucleolar phosphoprotein treacle, which is responsible for the craniofacial disorder associated with Treacher Collins syndrome, was found to be a constituent of hNop56p-associated pre-rRNP complexes. The association of hNop56p and treacle within the complexes was independent of rRNA integrity, indicating a direct interaction. In addition, the protein compositions of the treacle-associated and hNop56p-associated pre-ribosomal ribonucleoprotein complexes were very similar, suggesting functional similarities between these two complexes with respect to ribosome biogenesis in human cells.
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