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Helicase B (RhlB) is one of the five DEAD box RNA-dependent ATPases found in Escherichia coli. Unique among these enzymes, RhlB requires an interaction with the partner protein RNase E for appreciable ATPase and RNA unwinding activities. To explore the basis for this activating effect, we have generated a di-cistronic vector that overexpresses a complex comprising RhlB and its recognition site within RNase E, corresponding to residues 696-762. Complex formation has been characterized by isothermal titration calorimetry, revealing an avid, enthalpy-favored interaction between the helicase and RNase E-(696-762) with an equilibrium binding constant (Ka) of at least 1 x 10(8) m(-1). We studied ATPase activity of mutants with substitutions within the ATP binding pocket of RhlB and on the putative interaction surface that mediates recognition of RNase E. For comparisons, corresponding mutations were prepared in two other E. coli DEAD box ATPases, RhlE and SrmB. Strikingly, substitutions at a phenylalanine near the Q-motif found in DEAD box proteins boosts the ATPase activity of RhlB in the absence of RNA, but completely inhibits it in its presence. The data support the proposal that the protein-protein and RNA-binding surfaces both communicate allosterically with the ATPase catalytic center. We conjecture that this communication may govern the mechanical power and efficiency of the helicases, and is tuned in individual helicases in accordance with cellular function.

Original publication




Journal article


J Biol Chem

Publication Date





5567 - 5576


Adenosine Triphosphatases, Allosteric Regulation, Amino Acid Motifs, Amino Acid Substitution, Binding Sites, DEAD-box RNA Helicases, Endoribonucleases, Escherichia coli, Escherichia coli Proteins, Multiprotein Complexes, Mutation, Missense, Protein Binding, Protein Structure, Quaternary, RNA, Bacterial