Ribosome biogenesis requires a highly diverged XRN family 5′→3′ exoribonuclease for rRNA processing in Trypanosoma brucei

Joseph Sakyiama, Sara L. Zimmer, Martin Ciganda, Noreen Williams, Laurie K. Read

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Although biogenesis of ribosomes is a crucial process in all organisms and is thus well conserved, Trypanosoma brucei ribosome biogenesis, of which maturation of rRNAs is an early step, has multiple points of divergence. Our aim was to determine whether in the processing of the pre-rRNA precursor molecule, 5′→3′ exoribonuclease activity in addition to endonucleolytic cleavage is necessary in T. brucei as in other organisms. Our approach initiated with the bioinformatic identification of a putative 5 ′→3′ exoribonuclease, XRNE, which is highly diverged from the XRN2/Rat1 enzyme responsible for rRNA processing in other organisms. Tagging this protein in vivo allowed us to classify XRNE as nucleolar by indirect immunofluorescence and identify by copurification interacting proteins, many of which were ribosomal proteins, ribosome biogenesis proteins, and/or RNA processing proteins. To determine whether XRNE plays a role in ribosome biogenesis in procyclic form cells, we inducibly depleted the protein by RNA interference. This resulted in the generation of aberrant preprocessed 18S rRNA and 5′ extended 5.8S rRNA, implicating XRNE in rRNA processing. Polysome profiles of XRNE-depleted cells demonstrated abnormal features including an increase in ribosome small subunit abundance, a decrease in large subunit abundance, and defects in polysome assembly. Furthermore, the 5′ extended 5.8S rRNA in XRNE-depleted cells was observed in the large subunit, monosomes, and polysomes in this gradient. Therefore, the function of XRNE in rRNA processing, presumably due to exonucleolytic activity very early in ribosome biogenesis, has consequences that persist throughout all biogenesis stages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1419-1431
Number of pages13
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2013


  • Nucleolus
  • RNA processing
  • Ribonuclease
  • Ribosome biogenesis
  • Trypanosome


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