Coordination of divalent metal ions in the active site of poly(A)-specific ribonuclease.
Poly(A)-specific ribonuclease (PARN) is a highly poly(A)-specific 3'-exoribonuclease that efficiently degrades mRNA poly(A) tails. PARN belongs to the DEDD family of nucleases, and four conserved residues are essential for PARN activity, i.e. Asp-28, Glu-30, Asp-292, and Asp-382. Here we have investigated how catalytically important divalent metal ions are coordinated in the active site of PARN. Each of the conserved amino acid residues was substituted with cysteines, and it was found that all four mutants were inactive in the presence of Mg2+. However, in the presence of Mn2+, Zn2+, Co2+, or Cd2+, PARN activity was rescued from the PARN(D28C), PARN(D292C), and PARN(D382C) variants, suggesting that these three amino acids interact with catalytically essential metal ions. It was found that the shortest sufficient substrate for PARN activity was adenosine trinucleotide (A3) in the presence of Mg2+ or Cd2+. Interestingly, adenosine dinucleotide (A) was efficiently hydrolyzed in the presence of Mn2+, Zn2+, or Co2+, suggesting that the substrate length requirement for PARN can be modulated by the identity of the divalent metal ion. Finally, introduction of phosphorothioate modifications into the A substrate demonstrated that the scissile bond non-bridging phosphate oxygen in the pro-R position plays an important role during cleavage, most likely by coordinating a catalytically important divalent metal ion. Based on our data we discuss binding and coordination of divalent metal ions in the active site of PARN.