Quaternary arrangement of an active, native group II intron ribonucleoprotein complex revealed by small-angle X-ray scattering. Academic Article uri icon


  • The stable ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complex formed between the Lactococcus lactis group II intron and its self-encoded LtrA protein is essential for the intron's genetic mobility. In this study, we report the biochemical, compositional, hydrodynamic and structural properties of active group II intron RNP particles (+A) isolated from its native host using a novel purification scheme. We employed small-angle X-ray scattering to determine the structural properties of these particles as they exist in solution. Using sucrose as a contrasting agent, we derived a two-phase quaternary model of the protein-RNA complex. This approach revealed that the spatial properties of the complex are largely defined by the RNA component, with the protein dimer located near the center of mass. A transfer RNA fusion engineered into domain II of the intron provided a distinct landmark consistent with this interpretation. Comparison of the derived +A RNP shape with that of the previously reported precursor intron (?A) particle extends previous findings that the loosely packed precursor RNP undergoes a dramatic conformational change as it compacts into its active form. Our results provide insights into the quaternary arrangement of these RNP complexes in solution, an important step to understanding the transition of the group II intron from the precursor to a species fully active for DNA invasion.

publication date

  • April 2014