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EMBO J. 2001 Aug 1;20(15):4214-21.

The kink-turn: a new RNA secondary structure motif.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, New Haven, CT 06520-8114, USA.


Analysis of the Haloarcula marismortui large ribosomal subunit has revealed a common RNA structure that we call the kink-turn, or K-turn. The six K-turns in H.marismortui 23S rRNA superimpose with an r.m.s.d. of 1.7 A. There are two K-turns in the structure of Thermus thermophilus 16S rRNA, and the structures of U4 snRNA and L30e mRNA fragments form K-turns. The structure has a kink in the phosphodiester backbone that causes a sharp turn in the RNA helix. Its asymmetric internal loop is flanked by C-G base pairs on one side and sheared G-A base pairs on the other, with an A-minor interaction between these two helical stems. A derived consensus secondary structure for the K-turn includes 10 consensus nucleotides out of 15, and predicts its presence in the 5'-UTR of L10 mRNA, helix 78 in Escherichia coli 23S rRNA and human RNase MRP. Five K-turns in 23S rRNA interact with nine proteins. While the observed K-turns interact with proteins of unrelated structures in different ways, they interact with L7Ae and two homologous proteins in the same way.

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