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EMBO Rep. 2000 Jul;1(1):18-23.

The G x U wobble base pair. A fundamental building block of RNA structure crucial to RNA function in diverse biological systems.

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  • 1Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK.


The G x U wobble base pair is a fundamental unit of RNA secondary structure that is present in nearly every class of RNA from organisms of all three phylogenetic domains. It has comparable thermodynamic stability to Watson-Crick base pairs and is nearly isomorphic to them. Therefore, it often substitutes for G x C or A x U base pairs. The G x U wobble base pair also has unique chemical, structural, dynamic and ligand-binding properties, which can only be partially mimicked by Watson-Crick base pairs or other mispairs. These features mark sites containing G x U pairs for recognition by proteins and other RNAs and allow the wobble pair to play essential functional roles in a remarkably wide range of biological processes.

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