NMR studies of nucleic acid dynamics.
Nucleic acid structures have to satisfy two diametrically opposite requirements; on one hand they have to adopt well-defined 3D structures that can be specifically recognized by proteins; on the other hand, their structures must be sufficiently flexible to undergo very large conformational changes that are required during key biochemical processes, including replication, transcription, and translation. How do nucleic acids introduce flexibility into their 3D structure without losing biological specificity? Here, I describe the development and application of NMR spectroscopic techniques in my laboratory for characterizing the dynamic properties of nucleic acids that tightly integrate a broad set of NMR measurements, including residual dipolar couplings, spin relaxation, and relaxation dispersion with sample engineering and computational approaches. This approach allowed us to obtain fundamental new insights into directional flexibility in nucleic acids that enable their structures to change in a very specific functional manner.
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