Direct NMR Evidence that Transient Tautomeric and Anionic States in dG·dT Form Watson-Crick-like Base Pairs.
The replicative and translational machinery utilizes the unique geometry of canonical G·C and A·T/U Watson-Crick base pairs to discriminate against DNA and RNA mismatches in order to ensure high fidelity replication, transcription, and translation. There is growing evidence that spontaneous errors occur when mismatches adopt a Watson-Crick-like geometry through tautomerization and/or ionization of the bases. Studies employing NMR relaxation dispersion recently showed that wobble dG·dT and rG·rU mismatches in DNA and RNA duplexes transiently form tautomeric and anionic species with probabilities (≈0.01-0.40%) that are in concordance with replicative and translational errors. Although computational studies indicate that these exceptionally short-lived and low-abundance species form Watson-Crick-like base pairs, their conformation could not be directly deduced from the experimental data, and alternative pairing geometries could not be ruled out. Here, we report direct NMR evidence that the transient tautomeric and anionic species form hydrogen-bonded Watson-Crick-like base pairs. A guanine-to-inosine substitution, which selectively knocks out a Watson-Crick-type (G)N2H2···O2(T) hydrogen bond, significantly destabilized the transient tautomeric and anionic species, as assessed by lack of any detectable chemical exchange by imino nitrogen rotating frame spin relaxation (R1ρ) experiments. An 15N R1ρ NMR experiment targeting the amino nitrogen of guanine (dG-N2) provides direct evidence for Watson-Crick (G)N2H2···O2(T) hydrogen bonding in the transient tautomeric state. The strategy presented in this work can be generally applied to examine hydrogen-bonding patterns in nucleic acid transient states including in other tautomeric and anionic species that are postulated to play roles in replication and translational errors.
Szymanski, ES; Kimsey, IJ; Al-Hashimi, HM
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