RNase III represents a family of dsRNA-specific endoribonucleases required for RNA maturation and gene regulation. The mechanism of action has been well characterized for the bacterial enzyme, but is not clear for eukaryotic RNase IIIs. Here, we describe the structure of Saccharomyces cerevisiae RNase III (Rnt1p) post-cleavage complex and explain the basis of its affinity for RNA stems capped with an NGNN tetraloop. The structure shows specific interactions between a new structural motif located at the end of Rnt1p dsRNA-binding domain (dsRBD) and the guanine nucleotide in the second position of the loop. Strikingly, structural and biochemical analyses indicate that the dsRBD and N-terminal domain function as two rulers measuring the distance between the tetraloop and the cleavage site. This unusual mechanism of substrate selectivity represents an example of the evolution of substrate selectivity and provides a framework for understanding the mechanism of action of eukaryotic RNase IIIs.
Structure of a Eukaryotic RNase III Postcleavage Complex Reveals a Double- Ruler Mechanism for Substrate Selection