Transcription termination factor Rho contains three noncatalytic nucleotide binding sites

Dong Eun Kim, Katsuya Shigesada, Smita S. Patel

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8 Scopus citations


The active form of transcription termination factor rho from Escherichia coli is a homohexamer, but several studies suggest that the six subunits of the hexamer are not functionally identical. Rho has three tight and three weak ATP binding sites. Based on our findings, we propose that the tight nucleotide binding sites are noncatalytic and the weak sites are catalytic. In the presence of RNA, the rho-catalyzed ATPase rate is fast, close to 30 s-1. However, under these conditions the three tightly bound nucleotides dissociate from the rho hexamer at a slow rate of 0.02 s-1, indicating that the three tight nucleotide binding sites of rho do not participate in the fast ATPase turnover. These slowly exchanging nucleotide binding sites of rho are capable of hydrolyzing ATP, but the resulting products (ADP and P(i)) bind tightly and dissociate from rho about 1500 times slower than the fast ATPase turnover. Both RNA and excess ATP in solution are necessary for stabilizing nucleotide binding at these sites. In the absence of RNA, or when solution ATP is hydrolyzed to ADP, a faster dissociation of nucleotides was observed. Based on these results, we propose that the rho hexamer is similar to the F1-ATPase and T7 DNA helicase-containing noncatalytic sites that do not participate in the fast ATPase turnover. We propose that the three tight sites on rho are the noncatalytic sites and the three weak sites are the catalytic sites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11623-11628
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number17
StatePublished - Apr 23 1999
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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