Reference: Weber C, et al. (2014) Playing RNase P evolution: swapping the RNA catalyst for a protein reveals functional uniformity of highly divergent enzyme forms. PLoS Genet 10(8):e1004506

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Abstract


The RNase P family is a diverse group of endonucleases responsible for the removal of 5' extensions from tRNA precursors. The diversity of enzyme forms finds its extremes in the eukaryal nucleus where RNA-based catalysis by complex ribonucleoproteins in some organisms contrasts with single-polypeptide enzymes in others. Such structural contrast suggests associated functional differences, and the complexity of the ribonucleoprotein was indeed proposed to broaden the enzyme's functionality beyond tRNA processing. To explore functional overlap and differences between most divergent forms of RNase P, we replaced the nuclear RNase P of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a 10-subunit ribonucleoprotein, with Arabidopsis thaliana PRORP3, a single monomeric protein. Surprisingly, the RNase P-swapped yeast strains were viable, displayed essentially unimpaired growth under a wide variety of conditions, and, in a certain genetic background, their fitness even slightly exceeded that of the wild type. The molecular analysis of the RNase P-swapped strains showed a minor disturbance in tRNA metabolism, but did not point to any RNase P substrates or functions beyond that. Altogether, these results indicate the full functional exchangeability of the highly dissimilar enzymes. Our study thereby establishes the RNase P family, with its combination of structural diversity and functional uniformity, as an extreme case of convergent evolution. It moreover suggests that the apparently gratuitous complexity of some RNase P forms is the result of constructive neutral evolution rather than reflecting increased functional versatility.

Reference Type
Journal Article | Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Authors
Weber C, Hartig A, Hartmann RK, Rossmanith W
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