- Metal-ion binding and metal-ion induced folding of the adenine-sensing riboswitch aptamer domain (2007)
- Divalent cations are important in the folding and stabilization of complex RNA structures. The adenine-sensing riboswitch controls the expression of mRNAs for proteins involved in purine metabolism by directly sensing intracellular adenine levels. Adenine binds with high affinity and specificity to the ligand binding or aptamer domain of the adenine-sensing riboswitch. The X-ray structure of this domain in complex with adenine revealed an intricate RNA-fold consisting of a three-helix junction stabilized by long-range base-pairing interactions and identified five binding sites for hexahydrated Mg2+-ions. Furthermore, a role for Mg2+-ions in the ligand-induced folding of this RNA was suggested. Here, we describe the interaction of divalent cations with the RNA–adenine complex in solution as studied by high-resolution NMR spectroscopy. Paramagnetic line broadening, chemical shift mapping and intermolecular nuclear Overhauser effects (NOEs) indicate the presence of at least three binding sites for divalent cations. Two of them are similar to those in the X-ray structure. The third site, which is important for the folding of this RNA, has not been observed previously. The ligand-free state of the RNA is conformationally heterogeneous and contains base-pairing patterns detrimental to ligand binding in the absence of Mg2+, but becomes partially pre-organized for ligand binding in the presence of Mg2+. Compared to the highly similar guanine-sensing riboswitch, the folding pathway for the adenine-sensing riboswitch aptamer domain is more complex and the influence of Mg2+ is more pronounced.
- Interplay of ‘induced fit’ and preorganization in the ligand induced folding of the aptamer domain of the guanine binding riboswitch (2007)
- Riboswitches are highly structured elements in the 50-untranslated regions (50-UTRs) of messenger RNA that control gene expression by specifically binding to small metabolite molecules. They consist of an aptamer domain responsible for ligand binding and an expression platform. Ligand binding in the aptamer domain leads to conformational changes in the expression platform that result in transcription termination or abolish ribosome binding. The guanine riboswitch binds with high-specificity to guanine and hypoxanthine and is among the smallest riboswitches described so far. The X-ray-structure of its aptamer domain in complex with guanine/ hypoxanthine reveals an intricate RNA-fold consisting of a three-helix junction stabilized by longrange base pairing interactions. We analyzed the conformational transitions of the aptamer domain induced by binding of hypoxanthine using highresolution NMR-spectroscopy in solution. We found that the long-range base pairing interactions are already present in the free RNA and preorganize its global fold. The ligand binding core region is lacking hydrogen bonding interactions and therefore likely to be unstructured in the absence of ligand. Mg2+-ions are not essential for ligand binding and do not change the structure of the RNA-ligand complex but stabilize the structure at elevated temperatures. We identified a mutant RNA where the long-range base pairing interactions are disrupted in the free form of the RNA but form upon ligand binding in an Mg2+-dependent fashion. The tertiary interaction motif is stable outside the riboswitch context.
- Dissecting the influence of Mg2+ on 3D architecture and ligand-binding of the guanine-sensing riboswitch aptamer domain (2010)
- Long-range tertiary interactions determine the three-dimensional structure of a number of metabolite-binding riboswitch RNA elements and were found to be important for their regulatory function. For the guanine-sensing riboswitch of the Bacillus subtilis xpt-pbuX operon, our previous NMR-spectroscopic studies indicated pre-formation of long-range tertiary contacts in the ligand-free state of its aptamer domain. Loss of the structural pre-organization in a mutant of this RNA (G37A/C61U) resulted in the requirement of Mg2+ for ligand binding. Here, we investigate structural and stability aspects of the wild-type aptamer domain (Gsw) and the G37A/C61U-mutant (Gswloop) of the guanine-sensing riboswitch and their Mg2+-induced folding characteristics to dissect the role of long-range tertiary interactions, the link between pre-formation of structural elements and ligand-binding properties and the functional stability. Destabilization of the long-range interactions as a result of the introduced mutations for Gswloop or the increase in temperature for both Gsw and Gswloop involves pronounced alterations of the conformational ensemble characteristics of the ligand-free state of the riboswitch. The increased flexibility of the conformational ensemble can, however, be compensated by Mg2+. We propose that reduction of conformational dynamics in remote regions of the riboswitch aptamer domain is the minimal pre-requisite to pre-organize the core region for specific ligand binding.