The coat proteins of RNA phages MS2 and GA are specific RNA-binding proteins which function to encapsidate viral RNA and to translationally repress synthesis of the viral replicase. The two proteins have highly homologous amino acid sequences, yet they show different RNA binding specificities, recognizing RNA stem-loop structures which differ primarily in the nucleotide sequences of their loops. We sought to convert MS2 coat protein to the RNA binding specificity of GA through the introduction of GA-like amino acid substitutions into the MS2 coat protein RNA-binding site. The effects of the mutations were determined by measuring the affinity of the coat protein variants for RNA in vitro and by measuring translational repression in vivo. We found five substitutions that affect RNA binding. One dramatically reduces binding of MS2 coat protein to both operators. Three others compensate for this defect by nonspecifically strengthening the interaction. Another substitution accounts for the ability to recognize the differences in the RNA loop sequence.
Journal of Biological Chemistry
Lim, F; Spingola, Marc; and Peabody, D, "Altering the RNA Binding Specificity of a Translational Repressor" (1994). Biology Department Faculty Works. 157.
Available at: https://irl.umsl.edu/biology-faculty/157