Biophysical chemistry

Global architecture of human poly(A)-specific ribonuclease by atomic force microscopy in liquid and dynamic light scattering.

PMID 21741754


Deadenylation is the initial and often rate-limiting step in the main pathways of eukaryotic mRNA decay. Poly(A)-specific ribonuclease (PARN) is a eukaryotic enzyme that efficiently degrades mRNA poly(A) tails. Structural and functional studies have shown that human PARN is composed of at least three functional domains, i.e. the catalytic nuclease domain and two RNA binding domains, the R3H and the RNA recognition motif (RRM), respectively. However, the complete structure of the full length protein is still unknown. We have investigated the global architecture of human PARN by atomic force microscopy (AFM) imaging in buffered milieu and report for the first time the dimensions of the full length protein at subnanometer resolution. The AFM images of single PARN molecules reveal compact ellipsoidal dimers (10.9 × 7.6 × 4.6nm). The dimeric form of PARN was confirmed by dynamic light scattering (DLS) measurements that rendered a molecular weight of 161 kDa, in accordance with previous crystal structures of PARN fragments showing a dimeric composition. We discuss a putative internal arrangement of three functional domains within the full length PARN dimer.