National Center for
2NCI: Rna Bulge Loop That Specifically Binds Metal Ions
J Phys Chem Lett (2016) 7 p.3841-3846
Metal ions are critical for RNA structure and enzymatic activity. We present the structure of an asymmetric RNA loop that binds metal ions and has an essential function in a bacteriophage packaging motor. Prohead RNA is a noncoding RNA that is required for genome packaging activity in phi29-like bacteriophage. The loops in GA1 and phi29 bacteriophage share a conserved adenine that forms a base triple, although the structural context for the base triple differs. NMR relaxation studies and femtosecond time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy reveal the dynamic behavior of the loop in the metal ion bound and unbound forms. The mechanism of metal ion binding appears to be an induced conformational change between two dynamic ensembles rather than a conformational capture mechanism. These results provide experimental benchmarks for computational models of RNA-metal ion interactions.