Structure of the RNA Helicase MLE Reveals the Molecular Mechanisms for Uridine Specificity and RNA-ATP Coupling

Molecular Cell, Volume 60, Issue 3, p487–499,

Molecular Cell, online article

The MLE helicase remodels the roX lncRNAs, enabling the lncRNA-mediated assembly of the Drosophila dosage compensation complex. We identified a stable MLE core comprising the DExH helicase module and two auxiliary domains: a dsRBD and an OB-like fold. MLEcore is an unusual DExH helicase that can unwind blunt-ended RNA duplexes and has specificity for uridine nucleotides. We determined the 2.1 Å resolution structure of MLEcore bound to a U10 RNA and ADP-AlF4. The OB-like and dsRBD folds bind the DExH module and contribute to form the entrance of the helicase channel. Four uridine nucleotides engage in base-specific interactions, rationalizing the conservation of uridine-rich sequences in critical roX substrates. roX2 binding is orchestrated by MLE’s auxiliary domains, which is prerequisite for MLE localization to the male X chromosome. The structure visualizes a transition-state mimic of the reaction and suggests how eukaryotic DEAH/RHA helicases couple ATP hydrolysis to RNA translocation.


TU München
Helmholtz München
MPI of Neurobiology
MPI of Biochemistry