- 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.
- Structure and dynamics of the deoxyguanosine-sensing riboswitch studied by NMR-spectroscopy (2011)
- The mfl-riboswitch regulates expression of ribonucleotide reductase subunit in Mesoplasma florum by binding to 2´-deoxyguanosine and thereby promoting transcription termination. We characterized the structure of the ligand-bound aptamer domain by NMR spectroscopy and compared the mfl-aptamer to the aptamer domain of the closely related purine-sensing riboswitches. We show that the mfl-aptamer accommodates the extra 2´-deoxyribose unit of the ligand by forming a more relaxed binding pocket than these found in the purine-sensing riboswitches. Tertiary structures of the xpt-aptamer bound to guanine and of the mfl-aptamer bound to 2´-deoxyguanosine exhibit very similar features, although the sequence of the mfl-aptamer contains several alterations compared to the purine-aptamer consensus sequence. These alterations include the truncation of a hairpin loop which is crucial for complex formation in all purine-sensing riboswitches characterized to date. We further defined structural features and ligand binding requirements of the free mfl-aptamer and found that the presence of Mg2+ is not essential for complex formation, but facilitates ligand binding by promoting pre-organization of key structural motifs in the free aptamer.
- Influence of ground-state structure and Mg2+ binding on folding kinetics of the guanine-sensing riboswitch aptamer domain (2011)
- Riboswitch RNAs fold into complex tertiary structures upon binding to their cognate ligand. Ligand recognition is accomplished by key residues in the binding pocket. In addition, it often crucially depends on the stability of peripheral structural elements. The ligand-bound complex of the guanine-sensing riboswitch from Bacillus subtilis, for example, is stabilized by extensive interactions between apical loop regions of the aptamer domain. Previously, we have shown that destabilization of this tertiary loop–loop interaction abrogates ligand binding of the G37A/C61U-mutant aptamer domain (Gswloop) in the absence of Mg2+. However, if Mg2+ is available, ligand-binding capability is restored by a population shift of the ground-state RNA ensemble toward RNA conformations with pre-formed loop–loop interactions. Here, we characterize the striking influence of long-range tertiary structure on RNA folding kinetics and on ligand-bound complex structure, both by X-ray crystallography and time-resolved NMR. The X-ray structure of the ligand-bound complex reveals that the global architecture is almost identical to the wild-type aptamer domain. The population of ligand-binding competent conformations in the ground-state ensemble of Gswloop is tunable through variation of the Mg2+ concentration. We quantitatively describe the influence of distinct Mg2+ concentrations on ligand-induced folding trajectories both by equilibrium and time-resolved NMR spectroscopy at single-residue resolution.