Molecular simulations and modeling of pharmaceutically relevant RNA-processing enzymes

Manigrasso, Jacopo (2022) Molecular simulations and modeling of pharmaceutically relevant RNA-processing enzymes, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Data science and computation, 33 Ciclo. DOI 10.48676/unibo/amsdottorato/10033.
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The two-metal-ion architecture is a structural feature found in a variety of RNA processing metalloenzymes or ribozymes (RNA-based enzymes), which control the biogenesis and the metabolism of vital RNAs, including non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs). Notably, such ncRNAs are emerging as key players for the regulation of cellular homeostasis, and their altered expression has been often linked to the development of severe human pathologies, from cancer to mental disorders. Accordingly, understanding the biological processing of ncRNAs is foundational for the development of novel therapeutic strategies and tools. Here, we use state-of the-art molecular simulations, complemented with X-ray crystallography and biochemical experiments, to characterize the RNA processing cycle as catalyzed by two two-metal-ion enzymes: the group II intron ribozymes and the RNase H1. We show that multiple and diverse cations are strategically recruited at and timely released from the enzymes’ active site during catalysis. Such a controlled cations’ trafficking leads to the recursive formation and disruption of an extended two-metal ion architecture that is functional for RNA-hydrolysis – from substrate recruitment to product release. Importantly, we found that these cations’ binding sites are conserved among other RNA-processing machineries, including the human spliceosome and CRISPR-Cas systems, suggesting that an evolutionarily-converged catalytic strategy is adopted by these enzymes to process RNA molecules. Thus, our findings corroborate and sensibly extend the current knowledge of two-metal-ion enzymes, and support the design of novel drugs targeting RNA-processing metalloenzymes or ribozymes as well as the rational engineering of novel programmable gene-therapy tools.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Manigrasso, Jacopo
Dottorato di ricerca
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
RNA, ribozymes, non-coding RNA, nucleases, metal ions, catalysis, drug discovery, molecular dynamics, X-ray crystallography
Data di discussione
21 Marzo 2022

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