Year of publication
- 2010 (3) (remove)
- Aromatic N versus aromatic F: bioisosterism discovered in RNA base pairing interactions leads to a novel class of universal base analogs (2010)
- The thermodynamics of base pairing is of fundamental importance. Fluorinated base analogs are valuable tools for investigating pairing interactions. To understand the influence of direct base–base interactions in relation to the role of water, pairing free energies between natural nucleobases and fluorinated analogs are estimated by potential of mean force calculations. Compared to pairing of AU and GC, pairing involving fluorinated analogs is unfavorable by 0.5–1.0 kcal mol -1. Decomposing the pairing free energies into enthalpic and entropic contributions reveals fundamental differences for Watson–Crick pairs compared to pairs involving fluorinated analogs. These differences originate from direct base–base interactions and contributions of water. Pairing free energies of fluorinated base analogs with natural bases are less unfavorable by 0.5–1.0 kcal mol -1 compared to non-fluorinated analogs. This is attributed to stabilizing C–F…H–N dipolar interactions and stronger N…H–C hydrogen bonds, demonstrating direct and indirect influences of fluorine. 7-methyl-7H-purine and its 9-deaza analog (Z) have been suggested as members of a new class of non-fluorinated base analogs. Z is found to be the least destabilizing universal base in the context of RNA known to date. This is the first experimental evidence for nitrogen-containing heterocylces as bioisosteres of aromatic rings bearing fluorine atoms.
- A screen of chemical modifications identifies position-specific modification by UNA to most potently reduce siRNA off-target effects (2010)
- Small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) are now established as the preferred tool to inhibit gene function in mammalian cells yet trigger unintended gene silencing due to their inherent miRNA-like behavior. Such off-target effects are primarily mediated by the sequence-specific interaction between the siRNA seed regions (position 2–8 of either siRNA strand counting from the 5'-end) and complementary sequences in the 3'UTR of (off-) targets. It was previously shown that chemical modification of siRNAs can reduce off-targeting but only very few modifications have been tested leaving more to be identified. Here we developed a luciferase reporter-based assay suitable to monitor siRNA off-targeting in a high throughput manner using stable cell lines. We investigated the impact of chemically modifying single nucleotide positions within the siRNA seed on siRNA function and off-targeting using 10 different types of chemical modifications, three different target sequences and three siRNA concentrations. We found several differently modified siRNAs to exercise reduced off-targeting yet incorporation of the strongly destabilizing unlocked nucleic acid (UNA) modification into position 7 of the siRNA most potently reduced off-targeting for all tested sequences. Notably, such position-specific destabilization of siRNA–target interactions did not significantly reduce siRNA potency and is therefore well suited for future siRNA designs especially for applications in vivo where siRNA concentrations, expectedly, will be low.
- The ribosome assembly factor Nep1 responsible for Bowen–Conradi syndrome is a pseudouridine-N1-specific methyltransferase (2010)
- Nep1 (Emg1) is a highly conserved nucleolar protein with an essential function in ribosome biogenesis. A mutation in the human Nep1 homolog causes Bowen–Conradi syndrome—a severe developmental disorder. Structures of Nep1 revealed a dimer with a fold similar to the SPOUT-class of RNA-methyltransferases suggesting that Nep1 acts as a methyltransferase in ribosome biogenesis. The target for this putative methyltransferase activity has not been identified yet. We characterized the RNA-binding specificity of Methanocaldococcus jannaschii Nep1 by fluorescence- and NMR-spectroscopy as well as by yeast three-hybrid screening. Nep1 binds with high affinity to short RNA oligonucleotides corresponding to nt 910–921 of M. jannaschii 16S rRNA through a highly conserved basic surface cleft along the dimer interface. Nep1 only methylates RNAs containing a pseudouridine at a position corresponding to a previously identified hypermodified N1-methyl-N3-(3-amino-3-carboxypropyl) pseudouridine (m1acp3-Psi) in eukaryotic 18S rRNAs. Analysis of the methylated nucleoside by MALDI-mass spectrometry, HPLC and NMR shows that the methyl group is transferred to the N1 of the pseudouridine. Thus, Nep1 is the first identified example of an N1-specific pseudouridine methyltransferase. This enzymatic activity is also conserved in human Nep1 suggesting that Nep1 is the methyltransferase in the biosynthesis of m1acp3-Psi in eukaryotic 18S rRNAs.