Chemical rescue, multiple ionizable groups, and general acid-base catalysis in the HDV genomic ribozyme.
In the ribozyme from the hepatitis delta virus (HDV) genomic strand RNA, a cytosine side chain is proposed to facilitate proton transfer in the transition state of the reaction and, thus, act as a general acid-base catalyst. Mutation of this active-site cytosine (C75) reduced RNA cleavage rates by as much as one million-fold, but addition of exogenous cytosine and certain nucleobase or imidazole analogs can partially rescue activity in these mutants. However, pH-rate profiles for the rescued reactions were bell shaped, and only one leg of the pH-rate curve could be attributed to ionization of the exogenous nucleobase or buffer. When a second potential ionizable nucleobase (C41) was removed, one leg of the bell-shaped curve was eliminated in the chemical-rescue reaction. With this construct, the apparent pK(a) determined from the pH-rate profile correlated with the solution pK(a) of the buffer, and the contribution of the buffer to the rate enhancement could be directly evaluated in a free-energy or Brønsted plot. The free-energy relationship between the acid dissociation constant of the buffer and the rate constant for cleavage (Brønsted value, beta, = approximately 0.5) was consistent with a mechanism in which the buffer acted as a general acid-base catalyst. These data support the hypothesis that cytosine 75, in the intact ribozyme, acts as a general acid-base catalyst.
Perrotta, AT; Wadkins, TS; Been, MD
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