In Eukarya and Archaea, in addition to protein-only pseudouridine (Ψ) synthases, complexes containing one guide RNA and four proteins can also produce Ψ. Cbf5 protein is the Ψ synthase in the complex. Previously, we showed that Ψ's at positions 1940, 1942, and 2605 of Haloferax volcanii 23S rRNA are absent in a cbf5-deleted strain, and a plasmid-borne copy of cbf5 can rescue the synthesis of these Ψ's. Based on published reports of the structure of archaeal Cbf5 complexed with other proteins and RNAs, we identified several potential residues and structures in H. volcanii Cbf5, which were expected to play important roles in pseudouridylation. We mutated these structures and determined their effects on Ψ production at the three rRNA positions under in vivo conditions. Mutations of several residues in the catalytic domain and certain residues in the thumb loop either abolished Ψ's or produced partial modification; the latter indicates a slower rate of Ψ formation. The universal catalytic aspartate of Ψ synthases could be replaced by glutamate in Cbf5. A conserved histidine, which is common to Cbf5 and TruB is not needed, but another conserved histidine of Cbf5 is required for the in vivo RNA-guided Ψ formation. We also identified a previously unreported novelty in the pseudouridylation activity of Cbf5 where a single stem-loop of a guide H/ACA RNA is used to produce two closely placed Ψ's and mutations of certain residues of Cbf5 abolished one of these two Ψ's. In summary, this first in vivo study identifies several structures of an archaeal Cbf5 protein that are important for its RNA-guided pseudouridylation activity.



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