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  1. Abstract

    This paper reports the principal values of the13C chemical shift tensors for five nitrogen‐dense compounds (i.e., cytosine, uracil, imidazole, guanidine hydrochloride, and aminoguanidine hydrochloride). Although these are all fundamentally important compounds, the majority do not have13C chemical shift tensors reported in the literature. The chemical shift tensors are obtained from1H→13C cross‐polarization magic‐angle spinning (CP/MAS) experiments that were conducted at a high field of 18.8 T to suppress the effects of14N‐13C residual dipolar coupling. Quantum chemical calculations using density functional theory are used to obtain the13C magnetic shielding tensors for these compounds. The best agreement with experiment arises from calculations using the hybrid functional PBE0 or the double‐hybrid functional PBE0‐DH, along with the triple‐zeta basis sets TZ2P or pc‐3, respectively, and intermolecular effects modeled using large clusters of molecules with electrostatic embedding through the COSMO approach. These measurements are part of an ongoing effort to expand the catalog of accurate13C chemical shift tensor measurements, with the aim of creating a database that may be useful for benchmarking the accuracy of quantum chemical calculations, developing nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) crystallography protocols, or aiding in applications involving machine learning or data mining. This work was conducted at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory as part of a 2‐week school for introducing undergraduate students to practical laboratory experience that will prepare them for scientific careers or postgraduate studies.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 17, 2025
  2. Abstract

    The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic highlights the necessity for a more fundamental understanding of the coronavirus life cycle. The causative agent of the disease, SARS-CoV-2, is being studied extensively from a structural standpoint in order to gain insight into key molecular mechanisms required for its survival. Contained within the untranslated regions of the SARS-CoV-2 genome are various conserved stem-loop elements that are believed to function in RNA replication, viral protein translation, and discontinuous transcription. While the majority of these regions are variable in sequence, a 41-nucleotide s2m element within the genome 3′ untranslated region is highly conserved among coronaviruses and three other viral families. In this study, we demonstrate that the SARS-CoV-2 s2m element dimerizes by forming an intermediate homodimeric kissing complex structure that is subsequently converted to a thermodynamically stable duplex conformation. This process is aided by the viral nucleocapsid protein, potentially indicating a role in mediating genome dimerization. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the s2m element interacts with multiple copies of host cellular microRNA (miRNA) 1307-3p. Taken together, our results highlight the potential significance of the dimer structures formed by the s2m element in key biological processes and implicate the motif as a possible therapeutic drug target for COVID-19 and other coronavirus-related diseases.

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  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 31, 2024
  4. The s2m, a highly conserved 41-nt hairpin structure in the SARS-CoV-2 genome, serves as an attractive therapeutic target that may have important roles in the virus life cycle or interactions with the host. However, the conserved s2m in Delta SARS-CoV-2, a previously dominant variant characterized by high infectivity and disease severity, has received relatively less attention than that of the original SARS-CoV-2 virus. The focus of this work is to identify and define the s2m changes between Delta and SARS-CoV-2 and the subsequent impact of those changes upon the s2m dimerization and interactions with the host microRNA miR-1307-3p. Bioinformatics analysis of the GISAID database targeting the s2m element reveals a >99% correlation of a single nucleotide mutation at the 15th position (G15U) in Delta SARS-CoV-2. Based on1H NMR spectroscopy assignments comparing the imino proton resonance region of s2m and the s2m G15U at 19°C, we show that the U15–A29 base pair closes, resulting in a stabilization of the upper stem without overall secondary structure deviation. Increased stability of the upper stem did not affect the chaperone activity of the viral N protein, as it was still able to convert the kissing dimers formed by s2m G15U into a stable duplex conformation, consistent with the s2m reference. However, we show that the s2m G15U mutation drastically impacts the binding of host miR-1307-3p. These findings demonstrate that the observed G15U mutation alters the secondary structure of s2m with subsequent impact on viral binding of host miR-1307-3p, with potential consequences on immune responses.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 16, 2024