An RNA affinity tag was incorporated into the RNA subunit of human nuclear RNase P. The tagged RNA assembled with the protein components of RNase P inside HeLa cells to generate an active enzyme. Because of the specificity of the RNA tag to streptavidin, the reconstituted complex could be separated from the native enzyme and other ribonucleoproteins (particularly RNase MRP) by streptavidin agarose chromatography and could be recovered by the eluting agent, biotin. A mutant, tagged RNase P RNA, whose P3 domain was partially replaced, could not reconstitute with the proteins to yield an active enzyme. The P3 domain, therefore, is critical for the structure and function of RNase P.
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