- NMR and MD studies of the temperature-dependent dynamics of RNA YNMG-tetraloops (2008)
- In a combined NMR/MD study, the temperature-dependent changes in the conformation of two members of the RNA YNMG-tetraloop motif (cUUCGg and uCACGg) have been investigated at temperatures of 298, 317 and 325 K. The two members have considerable different thermal stability and biological functions. In order to address these differences, the combined NMR/MD study was performed. The large temperature range represents a challenge for both, NMR relaxation analysis (consistent choice of effective bond length and CSA parameter) and all-atom MD simulation with explicit solvent (necessity to rescale the temperature). A convincing agreement of experiment and theory is found. Employing a principle component analysis of the MD trajectories, the conformational distribution of both hairpins at various temperatures is investigated. The ground state conformation and dynamics of the two tetraloops are indeed found to be very similar. Furthermore, both systems are initially destabilized by a loss of the stacking interactions between the first and the third nucleobase in the loop region. While the global fold is still preserved, this initiation of unfolding is already observed at 317 K for the uCACGg hairpin but at a significantly higher temperature for the cUUCGg hairpin.
- Mechanistic insights into an engineered riboswitch: a switching element which confers riboswitch activity (2010)
- While many different RNA aptamers have been identified that bind to a plethora of small molecules only very few are capable of acting as engineered riboswitches. Even for aptamers binding the same ligand large differences in their regulatory potential were observed. We address here the molecular basis for these differences by using a set of unrelated neomycin-binding aptamers. UV melting analyses showed that regulating aptamers are thermally stabilized to a significantly higher degree upon ligand binding than inactive ones. Regulating aptamers show high ligand-binding affinity in the low nanomolar range which is necessary but not sufficient for regulation. NMR data showed that a destabilized, open ground state accompanied by extensive structural changes upon ligand binding is important for regulation. In contrast, inactive aptamers are already pre-formed in the absence of the ligand. By a combination of genetic, biochemical and structural analyses, we identified a switching element responsible for destabilizing the ligand free state without compromising the bound form. Our results explain for the first time the molecular mechanism of an engineered riboswitch.
- Structural and functional analysis of the archaeal endonuclease Nob1 (2011)
- Eukaryotic ribosome biogenesis requires the concerted action of numerous ribosome assembly factors, for most of which structural and functional information is currently lacking. Nob1, which can be identified in eukaryotes and archaea, is required for the final maturation of the small subunit ribosomal RNA in yeast by catalyzing cleavage at site D after export of the preribosomal subunit into the cytoplasm. Here, we show that this also holds true for Nob1 from the archaeon Pyrococcus horikoshii, which efficiently cleaves RNA-substrates containing the D-site of the preribosomal RNA in a manganese-dependent manner. The structure of PhNob1 solved by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy revealed a PIN domain common with many nucleases and a zinc ribbon domain, which are structurally connected by a flexible linker. We show that amino acid residues required for substrate binding reside in the PIN domain whereas the zinc ribbon domain alone is sufficient to bind helix 40 of the small subunit rRNA. This suggests that the zinc ribbon domain acts as an anchor point for the protein on the nascent subunit positioning it in the proximity of the cleavage site.