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A structural and biochemical comparison of Ribonuclease E homologues from pathogenic bacteria highlights species-specific properties

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Regulation of gene expression through processing and turnover of RNA is a key mechanism that allows bacteria to rapidly adapt to changing environmental conditions. Consequently, RNA degrading enzymes (ribonucleases; RNases) such as the endoribonuclease RNase E, frequently play critical roles in pathogenic bacterial virulence and are potential antibacterial targets. RNase E consists of a highly conserved catalytic domain and a variable non-catalytic domain that functions as the structural scaffold for the multienzyme degradosome complex. Despite conservation of the catalytic domain, a recent study identified differences in the response of RNase E homologues from different species to the same inhibitory compound(s). While RNase E from Escherichia coli has been well-characterised, far less is known about RNase E homologues from other bacterial species. In this study, we structurally and biochemically characterise the RNase E catalytic domains from four pathogenic bacteria: Yersinia pestis, Francisella tularensis, Burkholderia pseudomallei and Acinetobacter baumannii, with a view to exploiting RNase E as an antibacterial target. Bioinformatics, small-angle x-ray scattering and biochemical RNA cleavage assays reveal globally similar structural and catalytic properties. Surprisingly, subtle species-specific differences in both structure and substrate specificity were also identified that may be important for the development of effective antibacterial drugs targeting RNase E.
Original languageEnglish
Article number7952
Number of pages11
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 28 May 2019


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