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Nucleic Acids Res. 1992 Dec 25;20(24):6723-32.

The effect of loop size in antisense and target RNAs on the efficiency of antisense RNA control.

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Department of Microbiology, Uppsala University, Sweden.


Most natural antisense RNAs display a high degree of secondary structure with stem-loops as their most prominent feature. Mutations affecting the inhibitory activity of these RNAs most often map in or close to loop regions in both the antisense and target RNAs. The primary recognition loops often contain 5-7 unpaired nucleotides. Nucleotide changes in the loops affect the binding rate and, hence, the inhibitory effect on the activity of the target RNA. Here we address the question whether loop sizes affect binding rates between antisense and target RNAs, using the replication control system of plasmid R1 as a model system. By creating a series of loop size mutants we show that loop size alterations have strong effects on the binding rates between the two reactant RNAs in vitro, and that most of the mutations analyzed display corresponding effects on antisense RNA control in vivo. Our data suggest that the three-dimensional structures of antisense and target RNA stem-loops are crucial for determining binding rates. The implications of these results for the design of efficient artificial antisense RNA control systems are discussed.

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