RNA Editing in Trypanosomes: Substrate Recognition and its Integration to RNA Metabolism



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RNA editing in trypanosomes is the post-transcriptional insertion or deletion of uridylates at specific sites in mitochondrial mRNAs. This process is catalyzed by a multienzyme, multisubunit complex through a series of enzymatic cycles directed by small, trans-acting RNA molecules. Despite impressive progress in our understanding of the mechanism of RNA editing and the composition of the editing complex, fundamental questions regarding RNP assembly and the regulation of catalysis remain. This dissertation presents studies of RNA-protein interactions between RNA editing complexes and substrate RNAs and the determination of substrate secondary structural determinants that govern them. Our results suggest that substrate association, cleavage and full-round editing by RNA editing complexes in vitro obey hierarchical determinants that increase in complexity as editing progresses and we propose a model for substrate recognition by RNA editing complexes. In addition, this dissertation also presents the characterization of a novel mitochondrial RNA helicase, named REH2 and its macromolecular interactions. Our data suggest that REH2 is intimately involved in interactions with macromolecular complexes that integrate diverse processes mediating mitochondrial gene expression. These results have implications for the mechanism of substrate RNA recognition by RNA editing complexes as well as for the integration of RNA editing to other facets of mitochondrial RNA metabolism.