Visualizing transient low-populated structures of RNA.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

The visualization of RNA conformational changes has provided fundamental insights into how regulatory RNAs carry out their biological functions. The RNA structural transitions that have been characterized so far involve long-lived species that can be captured by structure characterization techniques. Here we report the nuclear magnetic resonance visualization of RNA transitions towards 'invisible' excited states (ESs), which exist in too little abundance (2-13%) and for too short a duration (45-250 μs) to allow structural characterization by conventional techniques. Transitions towards ESs result in localized rearrangements in base-pairing that alter building block elements of RNA architecture, including helix-junction-helix motifs and apical loops. The ES can inhibit function by sequestering residues involved in recognition and signalling or promote ATP-independent strand exchange. Thus, RNAs do not adopt a single conformation, but rather exist in rapid equilibrium with alternative ESs, which can be stabilized by cellular cues to affect functional outcomes.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Dethoff, EA; Petzold, K; Chugh, J; Casiano-Negroni, A; Al-Hashimi, HM

Published Date

  • November 29, 2012

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 491 / 7426

Start / End Page

  • 724 - 728

PubMed ID

  • 23041928

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC3590852

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1476-4687

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1038/nature11498


  • eng

Conference Location

  • England