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RNA ligase type 1 from bacteriophage T4 (Rnl1) is involved in countering a host defense mechanism by repairing 5'-PO4 and 3'-OH groups in tRNA(Lys). Rnl1 is widely used as a reagent in molecular biology. Although many structures for DNA ligases are available, only fragments of RNA ligases such as Rnl2 are known. We report the first crystal structure of a complete RNA ligase, Rnl1, in complex with adenosine 5'-(alpha,beta-methylenetriphosphate) (AMPcPP). The N-terminal domain is related to the equivalent region of DNA ligases and Rnl2 and binds AMPcPP but with further interactions from the additional N-terminal 70 amino acids in Rnl1 (via Tyr37 and Arg54) and the C-terminal domain (Gly269 and Asp272). The active site contains two metal ions, consistent with the two-magnesium ion catalytic mechanism. The C-terminal domain represents a new all alpha-helical fold and has a charge distribution and architecture for helix-nucleic acid groove interaction compatible with tRNA binding.

Original publication




Journal article


J Biol Chem

Publication Date





1573 - 1579


Bacteriophage T4, Binding Sites, Cloning, Molecular, Ligands, Models, Molecular, Protein Conformation, Protein Structure, Secondary, RNA Ligase (ATP), Recombinant Proteins, Viral Proteins