Cold Adaptation in DEAD-Box Proteins
journal contributionposted on 2010-03-30, 00:00 authored by Gwendoline Cartier, Florence Lorieux, Frédéric Allemand, Marc Dreyfus, Thierry Bizebard
Spontaneous rearrangements of RNA structures are usually characterized by large activation energies and thus become very slow at low temperatures, yet RNA structure must remain dynamic even in cold-adapted (psychrophilic) organisms. DEAD-box proteins constitute a ubiquitous family of RNA-dependent ATPases that can often unwind short RNA duplexes in vitro (helicase activity), hence the belief that one of their major (though not exclusive) roles in vivo is to assist in RNA rearrangements. Here, we compare two Escherichia coli DEAD-box proteins and their orthologs from the psychrophilic bacteria Pseudoalteromonas haloplanktis and Colwellia psychrerythraea from the point of view of enzymatic properties. One of these proteins (SrmB) is involved in ribosome assembly, whereas the other (RhlE) presumably participates in both mRNA degradation and ribosome assembly; in vitro, RhlE is far more active as a helicase than SrmB. The activation energy associated with the ATPase activity of the psychrophilic SrmB is lower than for its mesophilic counterpart, making it more active at low temperatures. In contrast, in the case of psychrophilic RhlE, it is the RNA unwinding activity, not the ATPase activity, that has a reduced activation energy and is therefore cold-adapted. We argue that these different modes of cold adaptation reflect the likely function of these proteins in vivo: RNA helicase for RhlE and ATP-dependent RNA binding for SrmB. The cold adaptation of helicases like RhlE presumably facilitates RNA metabolism in psychrophilic bacteria.