Group II intron-ribosome association protects intron RNA from degradation. Academic Article uri icon


  • The influence of the cellular environment on the structures and properties of catalytic RNAs is not well understood, despite great interest in ribozyme function. Here we report on ribosome association of group II introns, which are ribozymes that are important because of their putative ancestry to spliceosomal introns and retrotransposons, their retromobility via an RNA intermediate, and their application as gene delivery agents. We show that group II intron RNA, in complex with the intron-encoded protein from the native Lactoccocus lactis host, associates strongly with ribosomes in vivo. Ribosomes have little effect on intron ribozyme activities; rather, the association with host ribosomes protects the intron RNA against degradation by RNase E, an enzyme previously shown to be a silencer of retromobility in Escherichia coli. The ribosome interacts strongly with the intron, exerting protective effects in vivo and in vitro, as demonstrated by genetic and biochemical experiments. These results are consistent with the ribosome influencing the integrity of catalytic RNAs in bacteria in the face of degradative nucleases that regulate intron mobility.

publication date

  • November 2013