Specificity and Evolutionary Conservation of the Escherichia coli RNA Pyrophosphohydrolase RppH [Gene Regulation]

February 5th, 2015 by Foley, P. L., Hsieh, P.-k., Luciano, D. J., Belasco, J. G.

Bacterial RNA degradation often begins with conversion of the 5'-terminal triphosphate to a monophosphate by the RNA pyrophosphohydrolase RppH, an event that triggers rapid ribonucleolytic attack. Besides its role as the master regulator of 5'-end-dependent mRNA decay, RppH is important for the ability of pathogenic bacteria to invade host cells, yet little is known about how it chooses its targets. Here we show that Escherichia coli RppH (EcRppH) requires at least two unpaired nucleotides at the RNA 5' end and prefers three or more. It can tolerate any nucleotide at the first three positions but has a modest preference for A at the 5' terminus and either G or A at the second position. Mutational analysis has identified EcRppH residues crucial for substrate recognition or catalysis. The promiscuity of EcRppH differentiates it from its Bacillus subtilis counterpart (BsRppH), which has a strict RNA sequence requirement. EcRppH orthologs likely to share its relaxed sequence specificity are widespread in all classes of Proteobacteria except Deltaproteobacteria, and in flowering plants. By contrast, the phylogenetic range of recognizable BsRppH orthologs appears to be restricted to the order Bacillales. These findings help to explain the selective influence of RppH on bacterial mRNA decay and show that RppH-dependent degradation has diversified significantly during the course of evolution.