Mitochondrial gene expression in African trypanosomes and other trypanosomatid pathogens requires a U-nucleotide specific insertion/deletion-type RNA-editing reaction. The process is catalyzed by a macromolecular protein complex known as the editosome. Editosomes are restricted to the trypanosomatid clade and since editing is essential for the parasites, the protein complex represents a near perfect target for drug intervention strategies. Here, we report the development of an improved in vitro assay to monitor editosome function. The test system utilizes fluorophore-labeled substrate RNAs to analyze the processing reaction by automated, high-throughput capillary electrophoresis (CE) in combination with a laser-induced fluorescence (LIF) readout. We optimized the assay for high-throughput screening (HTS)-experiments and devised a multiplex fluorophore-labeling regime to scrutinize the U-insertion/U-deletion reaction simultaneously. The assay is robust, it requires only nanogram amounts of materials and it meets all performance criteria for HTS-methods. As such the test system should be helpful in the search for trypanosome-specific pharmaceuticals.
© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.