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Inhibition of homologous phosphorolytic ribonucleases by citrate may represent an evolutionarily conserved communicative link between RNA degradation and central metabolism

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Ribonucleases play essential roles in all aspects of RNA metabolism, including the coordination of post-transcriptional gene regulation that allows organisms to respond to internal changes and environmental stimuli. However, as inherently destructive enzymes, their activity must be carefully controlled. Recent research exemplifies the repertoire of regulatory strategies employed by ribonucleases. The activity of the phosphorolytic exoribonuclease, polynucleotide phosphorylase (PNPase), has previously been shown to be modulated by the Krebs cycle metabolite citrate in Escherichia coli. Here, we provide evidence for the existence of citratemediated inhibition of ribonucleases in all three domains of life. In silico molecular docking studies predict that citrate will bind not only to bacterial PNPases from E. coli and Streptomyces antibioticus, but also PNPase from human mitochondria and the structurally and functionally related archaeal exosome complex from Sulfolobus solfataricus. Critically, we show experimentally that citrate also inhibits the exoribonuclease activity of bacterial, eukaryotic and archaeal PNPase homologues in vitro. Furthermore, bioinformatics data, showing key citrate-binding motifs conserved across a broad range of PNPase homologues, suggests that this regulatory mechanism may be widespread. Overall, our data highlight a communicative link between ribonuclease activity and central metabolism that may have been conserved through the course of evolution.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4655-4666
JournalNucleic Acids Research
Issue number8
Early online date3 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2017


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