- 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.
- Recognition of two distinct elements in the RNA substrate by the RNA-binding domain of the T. thermophilus DEAD box helicase Hera (2013)
- DEAD box helicases catalyze the ATP-dependent destabilization of RNA duplexes. Whereas duplex separation is mediated by the helicase core shared by all members of the family, flanking domains often contribute to binding of the RNA substrate. The Thermus thermophilus DEAD-box helicase Hera (for “heat-resistant RNA-binding ATPase”) contains a C-terminal RNA-binding domain (RBD). We have analyzed RNA binding to the Hera RBD by a combination of mutational analyses, nuclear magnetic resonance and X-ray crystallography, and identify residues on helix α1 and the C-terminus as the main determinants for high-affinity RNA binding. A crystal structure of the RBD in complex with a single-stranded RNA resolves the RNA–protein interactions in the RBD core region around helix α1. Differences in RNA binding to the Hera RBD and to the structurally similar RBD of the Bacillus subtilis DEAD box helicase YxiN illustrate the versatility of RNA recognition motifs as RNA-binding platforms. Comparison of chemical shift perturbation patterns elicited by different RNAs, and the effect of sequence changes in the RNA on binding and unwinding show that the RBD binds a single-stranded RNA region at the core and simultaneously contacts double-stranded RNA through its C-terminal tail. The helicase core then unwinds an adjacent RNA duplex. Overall, the mode of RNA binding by Hera is consistent with a possible function as a general RNA chaperone.
- The crystal structure of Nep1 reveals an extended SPOUT-class methyltransferase fold and a pre-organized SAM-binding site (2008)
- Ribosome biogenesis in eukaryotes requires the participation of a large number of ribosome assembly factors. The highly conserved eukaryotic nucleolar protein Nep1 has an essential but unknown function in 18S rRNA processing and ribosome biogenesis. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae the malfunction of a temperature-sensitive Nep1 protein (nep1-1ts) was suppressed by the addition of S-adenosylmethionine (SAM). This suggests the participation of Nep1 in a methyltransferase reaction during ribosome biogenesis. In addition, yeast Nep1 binds to a 6-nt RNA-binding motif also found in 18S rRNA and facilitates the incorporation of ribosomal protein Rps19 during the formation of pre-ribosomes. Here, we present the X-ray structure of the Nep1 homolog from the archaebacterium Methanocaldococcus jannaschii in its free form (2.2 Å resolution) and bound to the S-adenosylmethionine analog S-adenosylhomocysteine (SAH, 2.15 Å resolution) and the antibiotic and general methyltransferase inhibitor sinefungin (2.25 Å resolution). The structure reveals a fold which is very similar to the conserved core fold of the SPOUT-class methyltransferases but contains a novel extension of this common core fold. SAH and sinefungin bind to Nep1 at a preformed binding site that is topologically equivalent to the cofactor-binding site in other SPOUT-class methyltransferases. Therefore, our structures together with previous genetic data suggest that Nep1 is a genuine rRNA methyltransferase.
- 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.