Under environmental stress, microbes are known to alter their translation patterns using sequence-specific endoribonucleases that we call RNA interferases. However, there has been limited insight regarding which RNAs are specifically cleaved by these RNA interferases, hence their physiological functions remain unknown. In the current study, we developed a novel method to effectively identify cleavage specificities with massive parallel sequencing. This approach uses artificially designed RNAs composed of diverse sequences, which do not form extensive secondary structures, and it correctly identified the cleavage sequence of a well-characterized Escherichia coli RNA interferase, MazF, as ACA. In addition, we also determined that an uncharacterized MazF homologue isolated from Pseudomonas putida specifically recognizes the unique triplet, UAC. Using a real-time fluorescence resonance energy transfer assay, the UAC triplet was further proved to be essential for cleavage in P. putida MazF. These results highlight an effective method to determine cleavage specificity of RNA interferases.
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