In Vivo Cleavage Map Illuminates the Central Role of RNase E in Coding and Non-coding RNA Pathways
The Escherichia coli endoribonuclease RNase E is central to the processing and degradation of all types of RNA and as such is a pleotropic regulator of gene expression. It is essential for growth and was one of the first examples of an endonuclease that can recognise the 5'-monophosphorylated ends of RNA thereby increasing the efficiency of many cleavages. Homologues of RNase E can be found in many bacterial families including important pathogens, but no homologues have been identified in humans or animals. RNase E represents a potential target for the development of new antibiotics to combat the growing number of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics in use currently. Potent small molecule inhibitors that bind the active site of essential enzymes are proving to be a source of potential drug leads and tools to dissect function through chemical genetics. Here we report the use of virtual high-throughput screening to obtain small molecules predicted to bind at sites in the N-terminal catalytic half of RNase E. We show that these compounds are able to bind with specificity and inhibit catalysis of Escherichia coli and Mycobacterium tuberculosis RNase E and also inhibit the activity of RNase G, a paralogue of RNase E.