- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- L11 domain rearrangement upon binding to RNA and thiostrepton studied by NMR spectroscopy (2006)
- Ribosomal proteins are assumed to stabilize specific RNA structures and promote compact folding of the large rRNA. The conformational dynamics of the protein between the bound and unbound state play an important role in the binding process. We have studied those dynamical changes in detail for the highly conserved complex between the ribosomal protein L11 and the GTPase region of 23S rRNA. The RNA domain is compactly folded into a well defined tertiary structure, which is further stabilized by the association with the C-terminal domain of the L11 protein (L11ctd). In addition, the N-terminal domain of L11 (L11ntd) is implicated in the binding of the natural thiazole antibiotic thiostrepton, which disrupts the elongation factor function. We have studied the conformation of the ribosomal protein and its dynamics by NMR in the unbound state, the RNA bound state and in the ternary complex with the RNA and thiostrepton. Our data reveal a rearrangement of the L11ntd, placing it closer to the RNA after binding of thiostrepton, which may prevent binding of elongation factors. We propose a model for the ternary L11–RNA–thiostrepton complex that is additionally based on interaction data and conformational information of the L11 protein. The model is consistent with earlier findings and provides an explanation for the role of L11ntd in elongation factor binding.