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Biochemistry. 1998 Aug 25;37(34):11726-31.

Structure of an RNA internal loop consisting of tandem C-A+ base pairs.

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Structural Biology Department, Physical Biosciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley 94720, USA.


The crystal structure of the RNA octamer 5'-CGC(CA)GCG-3' has been determined from X-ray diffraction data to 2.3 A resolution. In the crystal, this oligomer forms a self-complementary double helix in the asymmetric unit. Tandem non-Watson-Crick C-A and A-C base pairs comprise an internal loop in the middle of the duplex, which is incorporated with little distortion of the A-form double helix. From the geometry of the C-A base pairs, it is inferred that the adenosine imino group is protonated and donates a hydrogen bond to the carbonyl group of the cytosine. The wobble geometry of the C-A+ base pairs is very similar to that of the common U-G non-Watson-Crick pair.

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