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J Mol Biol. 2000 Jul 21;300(4):791-803.

Predicting U-turns in ribosomal RNA with comparative sequence analysis.

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  • 1Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology, University of Texas at Austin, 2500 Speedway, Austin, TX, 78712-1095, USA. robin.gutell@mail.utexas.edu


The U-turn is a well-known RNA motif characterized by a sharp reversal of the RNA backbone following a single-stranded uridine base. In experimentally determined U-turn motifs, the nucleotides 3' to the turn are frequently involved in tertiary interactions, rendering this motif particularly attractive in RNA modeling and functional studies. The U-turn signature is composed of an UNR sequence pattern flanked by a Y:Y, Y:A (Y=pyrimidine) or G:A base juxtaposition. We have identified 33 potential UNR-type U-turns and 25 related GNRA-type U-turns in a large set of aligned 16 S and 23 S rRNA sequences. U-turn candidates occur in hairpin loops (34 times) as well as in internal and multi-stem loops (24 times). These are classified into ten families based on loop type, sequence pattern (UNR or GNRA) and the nature of the closing base juxtaposition. In 13 cases, the bases on the 3' side of the turn, or on the immediate 5' side, are involved in tertiary covariations, making these sites strong candidates for tertiary interactions.

Copyright 2000 Academic Press.

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