RNA-protein binding interface in the telomerase ribonucleoprotein

Christopher J. Bley, Xiaodong Qi, Dustin P. Rand, Chad Borges, Randall W. Nelson, Julian Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Telomerase is a specialized reverse transcriptase containing an intrinsic telomerase RNA (TR) which provides the template for telomeric DNA synthesis. Distinct from conventional reverse transcriptases, telomerase has evolved a unique TR-binding domain (TRBD) in the catalytic telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) protein, integral for ribonucleoprotein assembly. Two structural elements in the vertebrate TR, the pseudoknot and CR4/5, bind TERT independently and are essential for telomerase enzymatic activity. However, the details of the TR-TERT interaction have remained elusive. In this study, we employed a photoaffinity cross-linking approach to map the CR4/5-TRBD RNA-protein binding interface by identifying RNA and protein residues in close proximity. Photoreactive 5-iodouridines were incorporated into the medaka CR4/5 RNA fragment and UV cross-linked to the medaka TRBD protein fragment. The cross-linking RNA residues were identified by alkaline partial hydrolysis and cross-linked protein residues were identified by mass spectrometry. Three CR4/5 RNA residues (U182, U187, and U205) were found cross-linking to TRBD amino acids Tyr503, Phe355, and Trp477, respectively. This CR4/5 binding pocket is distinct and separate from the previously proposed T pocket in the Tetrahymena TRBD. Based on homologous structural models, our cross-linking data position the essential loop L6.1 adjacent to the TERT C-terminal extension domain. We thus propose that stem-loop 6.1 facilitates proper TERT folding by interacting with both TRBD and C-terminal extension. Revealing the telomerase CR4/5-TRBD binding interface with single-residue resolution provides important insights into telomerase ribonucleoprotein architecture and the function of the essential CR4/5 domain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20333-20338
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number51
StatePublished - Dec 20 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'RNA-protein binding interface in the telomerase ribonucleoprotein'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this