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Biochemistry. 1983 Sep 13;22(19):4380-8.

Structure of phenylalanine-accepting transfer ribonucleic acid and of its environment in aqueous solvents with different salts.


Thermodynamic and structural parameters were measured for brewers' yeast tRNAPhe in solution in the range of 0.1-0.9 M monovalent salt (with and without 1 mM MgCl2), pH 7.0, by small-angle neutron scattering. Partial specific volumes and preferential interaction parameters were found to be similar to corresponding values measured by more conventional means in DNA [Eisenberg, H. (1981) Q. Rev. Biophys. 14, 141-172]. There is no evidence of a large conformational change in tRNAPhe in this range, and the molecule has a radius of gyration that is the same as that calculated from the crystal-structure coordinates (23 A). Transfer RNA in solution is made up of polyion tRNA76- and 76 positive monovalent ions (in absence of Mg2+). The data show the polyion to be surrounded by a shell of solvent that is significantly denser than bulk, whose structure depends on salt conditions. In 0.1 M NaCl, it has an excess mass of approximately 85 molecules of water. This would be accounted for, for example, by approximately 850 molecules of water if their density were 10% higher than that for bulk. The radius of gyration of the dense shell is approximately 30 A for NatRNA and approximately 35 A for KtRNA. The present study shows that the solvent around tRNA is a component of its structure that must be taken into account in understanding its function.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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