Human DNA exonuclease TREX1 is also an exoribonuclease that acts on single-stranded RNA [DNA and Chromosomes]

April 8th, 2015 by Yuan, F., Dutta, T., Wang, L., Song, L., Gu, L., Qian, L., Benitez, A., Ning, S., Malhotra, A., Deutscher, M. P., Zhang, Y.

TREX1 is a known DNA exonuclease involved in autoimmune disorders and the antiviral response. In this work, we show that TREX1 is also an RNA exonuclease. Purified TREX1 displays robust exoribonuclease activity that degrades single-stranded, but not double-stranded, RNA. TREX1-D200N, an Aicardi-Goutieres syndrome disease-causing mutant, is defective in degrading RNA. TREX1 activity is strongly inhibited by a stretch of pyrimidine residues as is a bacterial homolog, RNase T. Kinetic measurements indicate that the apparent Km of TREX1 for RNA is higher than that for DNA. Like RNase T, human TREX1 is active in degrading native tRNA substrates. Previously reported TREX1 crystal structures have revealed that the substrate binding sites are open enough to accommodate the extra hydroxyl group in RNA, further supporting our conclusion that TREX1 acts on RNA. These findings indicate that its RNase activity needs to be taken into account when evaluating the physiological role of TREX1.