J Biol Chem 2011 May 16;286(19):16984-91. Epub 2011 Mar 16.
Department of Biochemistry, Wake Forest University Health Sciences, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27157, USA.
Mutations in the three genes encoding the heterotrimeric RNase H2 complex cause Aicardi-Goutières Syndrome (AGS). Our mouse RNase H2 structure revealed that the catalytic RNase H2A subunit interfaces mostly with the RNase H2C subunit that is intricately interwoven with the RNase H2B subunit. We mapped the positions of AGS-causing RNase H2A mutations using the mouse RNase H2 structure and proposed that these mutations cause varied effects on catalytic potential. To determine the functional consequences of these mutations, heterotrimeric human RNase H2 complexes containing the RNase H2A subunit mutations were prepared, and catalytic efficiencies and nucleic acid binding properties were compared with the wild-type (WT) complex. These analyses reveal a dramatic range of effects with mutations at conserved positions G37S, R186W, and R235Q, reducing enzymatic activities and substrate binding affinities by as much as a 1000-fold, whereas mutations at non-conserved positions R108W, N212I, F230L, T240M, and R291H reduced activities and binding modestly or not at all. All mutants purify as three-subunit complexes, further supporting the required heterotrimeric structure in eukaryotic RNase H2. These kinetic properties reveal varied functional consequences of AGS-causing mutations in the catalytic RNase H2A subunit and reflect the complex mechanisms of nuclease dysfunction that include catalytic deficiencies and altered protein-nucleic acid interactions relevant in AGS.