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Nucleic Acids Res. 1997 May 15;25(10):2020-4.

RNA aptamers to the adenosine moiety of S-adenosyl methionine: structural inferences from variations on a theme and the reproducibility of SELEX.

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Department of Molecular, Cellular and Development Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0347, USA.


We used in vitro selection (SELEX) to isolate RNA 'aptamers' to S-adenosyl methionine (SAM). Individual aptamer sequences conform to the structural element noted previously for adenosine binding in selections for aptamers to ATP and NAD+. When we compare the patterns of sequence conservation among 65 adenosine-binding sequences to the published structure of the adenosine aptamer, we find that the most highly conserved nucleotides contact the bound adenosine directly, and that one conserved nucleotide outside the binding pocket is in position to stabilize nucleotides within the binding pocket. The aptamer's ability to bind diverse adenosine-containing cofactors is easily understood in terms of its mode of binding, which leaves the 5'position exposed to solvent. We propose that aptamers that bind their targets away from the reactive moiety may be particularly well suited for catalysis. Finally, we estimate that one sequence in 10(11) may be able to form this structural motif, and that there may be many other adenosine-binding motifs that have escaped detection because of their lower representation in the starting random pools.

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