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Nucleic Acids Res. 2008 Mar;36(4):1138-52. Epub 2007 Dec 23.

Comprehensive features of natural and in vitro selected GNRA tetraloop-binding receptors.

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Biomolecular Science and Engineering Program, University of California at Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9510, USA.


Specific recognitions of GNRA tetraloops by small helical receptors are among the most widespread long-range packing interactions in large ribozymes. However, in contrast to GYRA and GAAA tetraloops, very few GNRA/receptor interactions have yet been identified to involve GGAA tetraloops in nature. A novel in vitro selection scheme based on a rigid self-assembling tectoRNA scaffold designed for isolation of intermolecular interactions with A-minor motifs has yielded new GGAA tetraloop-binding receptors with affinity in the nanomolar range. One of the selected receptors is a novel 12 nt RNA motif, (CCUGUG ... AUCUGG), that recognizes GGAA tetraloop hairpin with a remarkable specificity and affinity. Its physical and chemical characteristics are comparable to those of the well-studied '11nt' GAAA tetraloop receptor motif. A second less specific motif (CCCAGCCC ... GAUAGGG) binds GGRA tetraloops and appears to be related to group IC3 tetraloop receptors. Mutational, thermodynamic and comparative structural analysis suggests that natural and in vitro selected GNRA receptors can essentially be grouped in two major classes of GNRA binders. New insights about the evolution, recognition and structural modularity of GNRA and A-minor RNA-RNA interactions are proposed.

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