The glmS ribozyme is a self-cleaving RNA catalyst that resides in the 5′-untranslated region of glmS mRNA in certain bacteria. The ribozyme is specifically activated by glucosamine-6-phosphate (GlcN6P), the metabolic product of the GlmS protein, and is thus proposed to provide a feedback mechanism of riboswitch regulation. Both phylogenetic and biochemical analyses of the glmS ribozyme have established a highly conserved core sequence and secondary structure required for GlcN6P-dependent self-cleavage. However, the high degree of nucleotide conservation offers few clues regarding the higher-order structural organization of the catalytic core. To further investigate core ribozyme structure, minimal 'consensus-type' glmS ribozymes that retain GlcN6P-dependent activity were produced. Mutational analyses of consensus-type glmS ribozymes support a model for core ribozyme folding through a pseudoknot structure formed by the interaction of two highly conserved sequence segments. Moreover, GlcN6P-dependent function is demonstrated for bimolecular constructs in which substrate interaction with the ribozyme is minimally comprised of sequence representing that involved in putative pseudoknot formation. These studies suggest that the glmS ribozyme adopts an intricate multi-strand catalytic core through the formation of a pseudoknot structure, and provide a refined model for further considering GlcN6P interaction and GlcN6P-dependent ribozyme function.
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