In yeast, RNase MRP (mitochondrial RNA processing), a ribonucleoprotein precursor rRNA processing enzyme, possesses one putatively catalytic RNA and ten protein subunits and is highly related to RNase P. Structural analysis of the MRP RNA provides data that closely match a previous secondary-structure model derived from phylogenetic analysis, with the exception of an additional stem. This stem occupies an equivalent position to the P7 stem of RNase P RNA and its inclusion confers on MRP RNA a greater similarity to the core P RNA structure. In vivo studies indicate that the P7-like stem can form, but is not a part of, the active enzyme structure. Stem formation would increase RNA stability in the absence of proteins and our alternative structure may be a valid intermediate species in RNase MRP assembly. Further ongoing studies of this enzyme reveal an extensive network of interactions between subunits and a probable central role for the Pop1, Pop4 and Pop7 subunits.

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