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J Biomol NMR. 2010 Jan;46(1):113-25. doi: 10.1007/s10858-009-9375-2. Epub 2009 Sep 30.

Isotope labeling strategies for NMR studies of RNA.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Maryland Baltimore County, Baltimore, 21250, USA.


The known biological functions of RNA have expanded in recent years and now include gene regulation, maintenance of sub-cellular structure, and catalysis, in addition to propagation of genetic information. As for proteins, RNA function is tightly correlated with structure. Unlike proteins, structural information for larger, biologically functional RNAs is relatively limited. NMR signal degeneracy, relaxation problems, and a paucity of long-range (1)H-(1)H dipolar contacts have limited the utility of traditional NMR approaches. Selective isotope labeling, including nucleotide-specific and segmental labeling strategies, may provide the best opportunities for obtaining structural information by NMR. Here we review methods that have been developed for preparing and purifying isotopically labeled RNAs, as well as NMR strategies that have been employed for signal assignment and structure determination.

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