The human pseudouridine synthase PUS7 recognizes RNA with an extended multi-domain binding surface

Nucleic Acids Res. 2021 Nov 18;49(20):11810-11822. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkab934.


The human pseudouridine synthase PUS7 is a versatile RNA modification enzyme targeting many RNAs thereby playing a critical role in development and brain function. Whereas all target RNAs of PUS7 share a consensus sequence, additional recognition elements are likely required, and the structural basis for RNA binding by PUS7 is unknown. Here, we characterize the structure-function relationship of human PUS7 reporting its X-ray crystal structure at 2.26 Å resolution. Compared to its bacterial homolog, human PUS7 possesses two additional subdomains, and structural modeling studies suggest that these subdomains contribute to tRNA recognition through increased interactions along the tRNA substrate. Consistent with our modeling, we find that all structural elements of tRNA are required for productive interaction with PUS7 as the consensus sequence of target RNA alone is not sufficient for pseudouridylation by human PUS7. Moreover, PUS7 binds several, non-modifiable RNAs with medium affinity which likely enables PUS7 to screen for productive RNA substrates. Following tRNA modification, the product tRNA has a significantly lower affinity for PUS7 facilitating its dissociation. Taken together our studies suggest a combination of structure-specific and sequence-specific RNA recognition by PUS7 and provide mechanistic insight into its function.