Sinorhizobium meliloti YbeY is a zinc-dependent single-strand specific endoribonuclease that plays an important role in 16S ribosomal RNA processing


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Single-strand specific endoribonuclease YbeY has been shown to play an important role in the processing of the 3' end of the 16S rRNA in Escherichia coli. Lack of YbeY results in the accumulation of the 17S rRNA precursor. In contrast to a previous report, we show that Sinorhizobium meliloti YbeY exhibits endoribonuclease activity on single-stranded RNA substrate but not on the double-stranded substrate. This study also identifies the previously unknown metal ion involved in YbeY function to be Zn2+ and shows that the activity of YbeY is enhanced when the occupancy of zinc is increased. We have identified a pre-16S rRNA precursor that accumulates in the S. meliloti Delta ybeY strain. We also showthat Delta ybeY mutant of Brucella abortus, a mammalian pathogen, also accumulates a similar pre-16S rRNA. The pre-16S species is longer in alpha-proteobacteria than in gamma-proteobacteria. We demonstrate that the YbeY from E. coli and S. meliloti can reciprocally complement the rRNA processing defect in a Delta ybeY mutant of the other organism. These results establish YbeY as a zinc-dependent single-strand specific endoribonuclease that functions in 16S rRNA processing in both alpha- and gamma-proteobacteria.