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Co-evolution of tRNA 3' trailer sequences with 3' processing enzymes in bacteria.

RNA (New York, N.Y.)

Substrate Specificity, metabolism, genetics, RNA, Transfer, RNA, Bacterial, RNA Precursors, Molecular Sequence Data, Genome, Bacterial, Genes, Bacterial, Evolution, Molecular, enzymology, Escherichia coli, Endoribonucleases, Conserved Sequence, Computational Biology, Base Sequence, Base Composition, Bacteria

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      Maturation of the tRNA 3' terminus is a complicated process in bacteria. Usually, it is initiated by an endonucleolytic cleavage carried out by RNase E and Z in different bacteria. In Escherichia coli, RNase E cleaves AU-rich sequences downstream of tRNA, producing processing intermediates with a few extra residues at the 3' end; these are then removed by exoribonuclease trimming to generate the mature 3' end. Here we show that essentially all E. coli tRNA precursors contain a potential RNase E cleavage site, the AU-rich sequence element (AUE), in the 3' trailer. This suggests that RNase E cleavage and exonucleolytic trimming is a general pathway for tRNA maturation in this organism. Remarkably, the AUE immediately downstream of each tRNA is selectively conserved in bacteria having RNase E and tRNA-specific exoribonucleases, suggesting that this pathway for tRNA processing is also commonly used in these bacteria. Two types of RNase E-like proteins are identified in actinobacteria and the alpha-subdivision of proteobacteria. The tRNA 3' proximal AUE is conserved in bacteria with only one type of E-like protein. Selective conservation of the AUE is usually not observed in bacteria without RNase E. These results demonstrate a novel example of co-evolution of RNA sequences with processing activities.

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