A novel high- Throughput activity assay for the Trypanosoma brucei editosome enzyme REL1 and other RNA ligases

Stephan Zimmermann, Laurence Hall, Sean Riley, Jesper Sørensen, Rommie E. Amaro, Achim Schnaufer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The protist parasite Trypanosoma brucei causes Human African trypanosomiasis (HAT), which threatens millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa. Without treatment the infection is almost always lethal. Current drugs for HAT are difficult to administer and have severe side effects. Together with increasing drug resistance this results in urgent need for new treatments. T. brucei and other trypanosomatid pathogens require a distinct form of posttranscriptional mRNA modification for mitochondrial gene expression. A multi-protein complex called the editosome cleaves mitochondrial mRNA, inserts or deletes uridine nucleotides at specific positions and re-ligates the mRNA. RNA editing ligase 1 (REL1) is essential for the re-ligation step and has no close homolog in the mammalian host, making it a promising target for drug discovery. However, traditional assays for RELs use radioactive substrates coupled with gel analysis and are not suitable for high- Throughput screening of compound libraries. Here we describe a fluorescence-based REL activity assay. This assay is compatible with a 384-well microplate format and sensitive, satisfies statistical criteria for highthroughput methods and is readily adaptable for other polynucleotide ligases. We validated the assay by determining kinetic properties of REL1 and by identifying REL1 inhibitors in a library of small, pharmacologically active compounds.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere24
JournalNucleic Acids Research
Issue number3
Early online date22 Sep 2015
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016


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