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Nat Struct Biol. 1999 Mar;6(3):285-92.

Minor groove RNA triplex in the crystal structure of a ribosomal frameshifting viral pseudoknot.

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Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge 02139, USA.
MA Inst Tech, Cambridge


Many viruses regulate translation of polycistronic mRNA using a -1 ribosomal frameshift induced by an RNA pseudoknot. A pseudoknot has two stems that form a quasi-continuous helix and two connecting loops. A 1.6 A crystal structure of the beet western yellow virus (BWYV) pseudoknot reveals rotation and a bend at the junction of the two stems. A loop base is inserted in the major groove of one stem with quadruple-base interactions. The second loop forms a new minor-groove triplex motif with the other stem, involving 2'-OH and triple-base interactions, as well as sodium ion coordination. Overall, the number of hydrogen bonds stabilizing the tertiary interactions exceeds the number involved in Watson-Crick base pairs. This structure will aid mechanistic analyses of ribosomal frameshifting.

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