Dissecting telomerase RNA structural heterogeneity in living human cells with DMS-MaPseq Journal Article uri icon



  • AbstractTelomerase is a specialized reverse transcriptase that uses an intrinsic RNA subunit as the template for telomeric DNA synthesis. Biogenesis of human telomerase requires its RNA subunit (hTR) to fold into a multi-domain architecture that includes the template-containing pseudoknot (t/PK) and the three-way junction (CR4/5). These two hTR domains bind the telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) protein and are thus essential for telomerase catalytic activity. Here, we probe the structure of hTR in living cells using dimethyl sulfate mutational profiling with sequencing (DMS-MaPseq) and ensemble deconvolution analysis. Unexpectedly, approximately 15% of the steady state population of hTR has a CR4/5 conformation lacking features required for hTERT binding. Mutagenesis demonstrates that stabilization of the alternative CR4/5 conformation is detrimental to telomerase assembly and activity. We propose that this misfolded portion of the cellular hTR pool is either slowly refolded or degraded. Thus, kinetic traps for RNA folding that have been so well-studied in vitro may also present barriers for assembly of ribonucleoprotein complexes in vivo.

publication date

  • October 5, 2023

has restriction

  • green

Date in CU Experts

  • January 26, 2024 10:39 AM

Full Author List

  • Forino NM; Woo JZ; Zaug AJ; Jimenez AG; Cech TR; Rouskin S; Stone MD

author count

  • 7

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