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Abstract Nearly two decades after Westhof and Michel first proposed that RNA tetraloops may interact with distal helices, tetraloop–receptor interactions have been recognized as ubiquitous elements of RNA tertiary structure. The unique architecture of GNRA tetraloops ( N =any nucleotide, R =purine) enables interaction with a variety of receptors, e.g., helical minor grooves and asymmetric internal loops. The most common example of the latter is the GAAA tetraloop–11 nt tetraloop receptor motif. Biophysical characterization of this motif provided evidence for the modularity of RNA structure, with applications spanning improved crystallization methods to RNA tectonics. In this review, we identify and compare types of GNRA tetraloop–receptor interactions. Then we explore the abundance of structural, kinetic, and thermodynamic information on the frequently occurring and most widely studied GAAA tetraloop–11 nt receptor motif. Studies of this interaction have revealed powerful paradigms for structural assembly of RNA, as well as providing new insights into the roles of cations, transition states and protein chaperones in RNA folding pathways. However, further research will clearly be necessary to characterize other tetraloop–receptor and long-range tertiary binding interactions in detail – an important milestone in the quantitative prediction of free energy landscapes for RNA folding.more » « less
We hypothesize that programmable hybridization to noncanonical nucleic acid motifs may be achieved by macromolecular display of binders to individual noncanonical pairs (NCPs). As each recognition element may individually have weak binding to an NCP, we developed a semi‐rational approach to detect low affinity interactions between selected nitrogenous bases and noncanonical sites in duplex DNA and RNA. A set of fluorogenic probes was synthesized by coupling abiotic (triazines, pyrimidines) and native RNA bases to thiazole orange (TO) dye. This probe library was screened against duplex nucleic acid substrates bearing single abasic, single NCP, and tandem NCP sites. Probe engagement with NCP sites was reported by 100–1000× fluorescence enhancement over background. Binding is strongly context‐dependent, reflective of both molecular recognition and stability: less stable motifs are more likely to bind a synthetic probe. Further, DNA and RNA substrates exhibit entirely different abasic and single NCP binding profiles. While probe binding in the abasic and single NCP screens was monotonous, much richer binding profiles were observed with the screen of tandem NCP sites in RNA, in part due to increased steric accessibility. In addition to known binding interactions between the triazine melamine (M) and T/U sites, the NCP screens identified new targeting elements for pyrimidine‐rich motifs in single NCPs and 2×2 internal bulges. We anticipate that semi‐rational approaches of this type will lead to programmable noncanonical hybridization strategies at the macromolecular level.
Inosine is an important RNA modification, furthermore RNA oxidation has gained interest due, in part, to its potential role in the development/progression of disease as well as on its impact on RNA structure and function. In this report we established the base pairing abilities of purine nucleobases G, I, A, as well as their corresponding, 8‐oxo‐7,8‐dihydropurine (common products of oxidation at the C8‐position of purines), and 8‐bromopurine (as probes to explore conformational changes), derivatives, namely 8‐oxoG, 8‐oxoI, 8‐oxoA, 8‐BrG, and 8‐BrI. Dodecamers of RNA were obtained using standard phosphoramidite chemistry via solid‐phase synthesis, and used as models to establish the impact that each of these nucleobases have on the thermal stability of duplexes, when base pairing to canonical and noncanonical nucleobases. Thermal stabilities were obtained from thermal denaturation transition (
Tm) measurements, via circular dichroism (CD). The results were then rationalized using models of base pairs between two monomers, via density functional theory (DFT), that allowed us to better understand potential contributions from H‐bonding patterns arising from distinct conformations. Overall, some of the important results indicate that: (a) an anti‐I:syn‐A base pair provides thermal stability, due to the absence of the exocyclic amine; (b) 8‐oxoG base pairs like U, and does not induce destabilization within the duplex when compared to the pyrimidine ring; (c) a U:G wobble‐pair is only stabilized by G; and (d) 8‐oxoA displays an inherited base pairing promiscuity in this sequence context. Gaining a better understanding of how this oxidatively generated lesions potentially base pair with other nucleobases will be useful to predict various biological outcomes, as well as in the design of biomaterials and/or nucleotide derivatives with biological potential.
Dutch, Rebecca Ellis (Ed.)ABSTRACT Translation of plant plus-strand RNA viral genomes that lack a 5′ cap frequently requires the use of cap-independent translation enhancers (CITEs) located in or near the 3′ untranslated region (UTR). 3′CITEs are grouped based on secondary structure and ability to interact with different translation initiation factors or ribosomal subunits, which assemble a complex at the 3′ end that is nearly always transferred to the 5′ end via a long-distance kissing-loop interaction between sequences in the 3′CITE and 5′ hairpins. We report here the identification of a novel 3′CITE in coat protein-deficient RNA replicons that are related to umbraviruses. Umbra-like associated RNAs (ulaRNAs), such as citrus yellow vein-associated virus (CYVaV), are a new type of subviral RNA that do not encode movement proteins, coat proteins, or silencing suppressors but can independently replicate using their encoded RNA-dependent RNA polymerase. An extended hairpin structure containing multiple internal loops in the 3′ UTR of CYVaV is strongly conserved in the most closely related ulaRNAs and structurally resembles an I-shaped structure (ISS) 3′CITE. However, unlike ISS, the CYVaV structure binds to eIF4G and no long-distance interaction is discernible between the CYVaV ISS-like structure and sequences at or near the 5′ end. We also report that the ∼30-nucleotide (nt) 5′ terminal hairpin of CYVaV and related ulaRNAs can enhance translation of reporter constructs when associated with either the CYVaV 3′CITE or the 3′CITEs of umbravirus pea enation mosaic virus (PEMV2) and even independent of a 3′CITE. These findings introduce a new type of 3′CITE and provide the first information on translation of ulaRNAs. IMPORTANCE Umbra-like associated RNAs (ulaRNAs) are a recently discovered type of subviral RNA that use their encoded RNA-dependent RNA polymerase for replication but do not encode any coat proteins, movement proteins, or silencing suppressors yet can be found in plants in the absence of any discernible helper virus. We report the first analysis of their translation using class 2 ulaRNA citrus yellow vein-associated virus (CYVaV). CYVaV uses a novel eIF4G-binding I-shaped structure as its 3′ cap-independent translation enhancer (3′CITE), which does not connect with the 5′ end by a long-distance RNA:RNA interaction that is typical of 3′CITEs. ulaRNA 5′ terminal hairpins can also enhance translation in association with cognate 3′CITEs or those of related ulaRNAs and, to a lesser extent, with 3′CITEs of umbraviruses, or even independent of a 3′CITE. These findings introduce a new type of 3′CITE and provide the first information on translation of ulaRNAs.more » « less
Understanding the molecular evolution of the SARS‐CoV‐2 virus as it continues to spread in communities around the globe is important for mitigation and future pandemic preparedness. Three‐dimensional structures of SARS‐CoV‐2 proteins and those of other coronavirusess archived in the Protein Data Bank were used to analyze viral proteome evolution during the first 6 months of the COVID‐19 pandemic. Analyses of spatial locations, chemical properties, and structural and energetic impacts of the observed amino acid changes in >48 000 viral isolates revealed how each one of 29 viral proteins have undergone amino acid changes. Catalytic residues in active sites and binding residues in protein–protein interfaces showed modest, but significant, numbers of substitutions, highlighting the mutational robustness of the viral proteome. Energetics calculations showed that the impact of substitutions on the thermodynamic stability of the proteome follows a universal bi‐Gaussian distribution. Detailed results are presented for potential drug discovery targets and the four structural proteins that comprise the virion, highlighting substitutions with the potential to impact protein structure, enzyme activity, and protein–protein and protein–nucleic acid interfaces. Characterizing the evolution of the virus in three dimensions provides testable insights into viral protein function and should aid in structure‐based drug discovery efforts as well as the prospective identification of amino acid substitutions with potential for drug resistance.