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Title: Nanomechanics and co-transcriptional folding of Spinach and Mango

Recent advances in fluorogen-binding “light-up” RNA aptamers have enabled protein-free detection of RNA in cells. Detailed biophysical characterization of folding of G-Quadruplex (GQ)-based light-up aptamers such as Spinach, Mango and Corn is still lacking despite the potential implications on their folding and function. In this work we employ single-molecule fluorescence-force spectroscopy to examine mechanical responses of Spinach2,iMangoIII and MangoIV. Spinach2 unfolds in four discrete steps as force is increased to 7 pN and refolds in reciprocal steps upon force relaxation. In contrast, GQ-core unfolding iniMangoIII and MangoIV occurs in one discrete step at forces >10 pN and refolding occurred at lower forces showing hysteresis. Co-transcriptional folding using superhelicases shows reduced misfolding propensity and allowed a folding pathway different from refolding. Under physiologically relevant pico-Newton levels of force, these aptamers may unfold in vivo and subsequently misfold. Understanding of the dynamics of RNA aptamers will aid engineering of improved fluorogenic modules for cellular applications.

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Nature Communications
Nature Publishing Group
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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