Refined secondary-structure models of the core of yeast and human telomerase RNAs directed by SHAPE

Rachel O. Niederer, David C. Zappulla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Telomerase catalyzes the addition of nucleotides to the ends of chromosomes to complete genomic DNA replication in eukaryotes and is implicated in multiple diseases, including most cancers. The core enzyme is composed of a reverse transcriptase and an RNA subunit, which provides the template for DNA synthesis. Despite extensive divergence at the sequence level, telomerase RNAs share several structural features within the catalytic core, suggesting a conserved enzyme mechanism. We have investigated the structure of the core of the human and yeast telomerase RNAs using SHAPE, which interrogates flexibility of each nucleotide. We present improved secondary-structure models, refined by addition of five base triples within the yeast pseudoknot and an alternate pairing within the human-specific element J2a.1 in the human pseudoknot, both of which have implications for thermodynamic stability. We also identified a potentially structured CCC region within the template that may facilitate substrate binding and enzyme mechanism. Overall, the SHAPE findings reveal multiple similarities between the Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Homo sapiens telomerase RNA cores.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)254-261
Number of pages8
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015


  • Chemical probing
  • RNA
  • RNP
  • TLC1
  • Telomerase
  • Telomerase RNA
  • hTR
  • lncRNA
  • ncRNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology


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