Conserved features of Y RNAs revealed by automated phylogenetic secondary structure analysis.
SourceNucleic Acids Research, 27, 4, (1999), pp. 1070-8
Article / Letter to editor
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Nucleic Acids Research
Y RNAs are small 'cytoplasmic' RNAs which are components of the Ro ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complex. The core of this complex, which is found in the cell nuclei of higher eukaryotes as well as the cytoplasm, is composed of a complex between the 60 kDa Ro protein and Y RNAs. Human cells contain four distinct Y RNAs (Y1, Y3, Y4 and Y5), while other eukaryotes contain a variable number of Y RNA homologues. When detected in a particular species, the Ro RNP has been present in every cell type within that particular organism. This characteristic, along with its high conservation among vertebrates, suggests an important function for Ro RNP in cellular metabolism; however, this function has not yet been definitively elucidated. In order to identify conserved features of Y RNA sequences and structures which may be directly involved in Ro RNP function, a phylogenetic comparative analysis of Y RNAs has been performed. Sequences of Y RNA homologues from five vertebrate species have been obtained and, together with previously published Y RNA sequences, used to predict Y RNA secondary structures. A novel RNA secondary structure comparison algorithm, the suboptimal RNA analysis program, has been developed and used in conjunction with available algorithms to find phylogenetically conserved secondary structure models for YI, Y3 and Y4 RNAs. Short, conserved sequences within the Y RNAs have been identified and are invariant among vertebrates, consistent with a direct role for Y RNAs in Ro function. A subset of these are located wholly or partially in looped regions in the Y3 and Y4 RNA predicted model structures, in accord with the possibility that these Y RNAs base pair with other cellular nucleic acids or are sites of interaction between the Ro RNP and other macromolecules.
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