Adenosine deaminases acting on RNA (ADARs) hydrolytically deaminate adenosines (A) in a wide variety of duplex RNAs and misregulation of editing is correlated with human disease. However, our understanding of reaction selectivity is limited. ADARs are modular enzymes with multiple double-stranded RNA binding domains (dsRBDs) and a catalytic domain. While dsRBD binding is understood, little is known about ADAR catalytic domain/RNA interactions. Here we use a recently discovered RNA substrate that is rapidly deaminated by the isolated human ADAR2 deaminase domain (hADAR2-D) to probe these interactions. We introduced the nucleoside analog 8-azanebularine (8-azaN) into this RNA (and derived constructs) to mechanistically trap the protein-RNA complex without catalytic turnover for EMSA and ribonuclease footprinting analyses. EMSA showed that hADAR2-D requires duplex RNA and is sensitive to 2′-deoxy substitution at nucleotides opposite the editing site, the local sequence and 8-azaN nucleotide positioning on the duplex. Ribonuclease V1 footprinting shows that hADAR2-D protects ∼23 nt on the edited strand around the editing site in an asymmetric fashion (∼18 nt on the 5′ side and ∼5 nt on the 3′ side). These studies provide a deeper understanding of the ADAR catalytic domain-RNA interaction and new tools for biophysical analysis of ADAR-RNA complexes.
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