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Biopolymers. 2007 Aug 5-15;86(5-6):384-402.

NMR studies of RNA dynamics and structural plasticity using NMR residual dipolar couplings.

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Department of Chemistry, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.


An increasing number of RNAs are being discovered that perform their functions by undergoing large changes in conformation in response to a variety of cellular signals, including recognition of proteins and small molecular targets, changes in temperature, and RNA synthesis itself. The measurement of NMR residual dipolar couplings (RDCs) in partially aligned systems is providing new insights into the structural plasticity of RNA through combined characterization of large-amplitude collective helix motions and local flexibility in noncanonical regions over a wide window of biologically relevant timescales (<milliseconds). Here, we review RDC methodology for studying RNA structural dynamics and survey what has been learnt thus far from application of these methods. Future methodological challenges are also identified.

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