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Cell. 1998 Apr 17;93(2):289-99.

NMR structure of the bacteriophage lambda N peptide/boxB RNA complex: recognition of a GNRA fold by an arginine-rich motif.

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  • 1Banting and Best Department of Medical Research, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


The structure of the complex formed by the arginine-rich motif of the transcriptional antitermination protein N of phage lambda and boxB RNA was determined by heteronuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. A bent alpha helix in N recognizes primarily the shape and negatively charged surface of the boxB hairpin through multiple hydrophobic and ionic interactions. The GAAGA boxB loop forms a GNRA fold, previously described for tetraloops, which is essential for N binding. The fourth nucleotide of the loop extrudes from the GNRA fold to enable the E. coli elongation factor NusA to recognize the N protein/RNA complex. This structure reveals a new mode of RNA-protein recognition and shows how a small RNA element can facilitate a protein-protein interaction and thereby nucleate formation of a large ribonucleoprotein complex.

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