Variable helix elongation as a tool to modulate RNA alignment and motional couplings.
ABSTRACT: The application of residual dipolar couplings (RDCs) in studies of RNA structure and dynamics can be complicated by the presence of couplings between collective helix motions and overall alignment and by the inability to modulate overall alignment of the molecule by changing the ordering medium. Here, we show for a 27-nt TAR RNA construct that variable levels of helix elongation can be used to alter both overall alignment and couplings to collective helix motions in a semi-predictable manner. In the absence of elongation, a four base-pair helix II capped by a UUCG apical loop exhibits a higher degree of order compared to a six base-pair helix I (theta(I)/theta(II)=0.56+/-0.1). The principal S(zz) direction is nearly parallel to the axis of helix II but deviates by approximately 40 degrees relative to the axis of helix I. Elongating helix I by three base-pairs equalizes the alignment of the two helices and pushes the RNA into the motional coupling limit such that the two helices have comparable degrees of order (theta(I)/theta(II)=0.92+/-0.04) and orientations relative to S(zz) ( approximately 17 degrees ). Increasing the length of elongation further to 22 base-pairs pushes the RNA into the motional decoupling limit in which helix I dominates alignment (theta(II)/theta(I)=0.45+/-0.05), with S(zz) orientated nearly parallel to its helix axis. Many of these trends can be rationalized using PALES simulations that employ a previously proposed three-state dynamic ensemble of TAR. Our results provide new insights into motional couplings, offer guidelines for assessing their extent, and suggest that variable degrees of helix elongation can allow access to independent sets of RDCs for characterizing RNA structural dynamics.
Project description:We describe an NMR approach based on the measurement of residual dipolar couplings (RDCs) to probe the structural and motional properties of the dynamic regions of the ribosome. Alignment of intact 70S ribosomes in filamentous bacteriophage enabled measurement of RDCs in the mobile C-terminal domain (CTD) of the stalk protein bL12. A structural refinement of this domain using the observed RDCs did not show large changes relative to the isolated protein in the absence of the ribosome, and we also found that alignment of the CTD was almost independent of the presence of the core ribosome particle, indicating that the inter-domain linker has significant flexibility. The nature of this linker was subsequently probed in more detail using a paramagnetic alignment strategy, which revealed partial propagation of alignment between neighbouring domains, providing direct experimental validation of a structural ensemble previously derived from SAXS and NMR relaxation measurements. Our results demonstrate the prospect of better characterising dynamical and functional regions of more challenging macromolecular machines and systems, for example ribosome-nascent chain complexes.
Project description:The structure and dynamics of the stem-loop transactivation response element (TAR) RNA from the human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) bound to the ligand argininamide (ARG) has been characterized using a combination of a large number of residual dipolar couplings (RDCs) and trans-hydrogen bond NMR methodology. Binding of ARG to TAR changes the average inter-helical angle between the two stems from approximately 47 degrees in the free state to approximately 11 degrees in the bound state, and leads to the arrest of large amplitude (+/-46 degrees ) inter-helical motions observed previously in the free state. While the global structural dynamics of TAR-ARG is similar to that previously reported for TAR bound to Mg2+, there are substantial differences in the hydrogen bond alignment of bulge and neighboring residues. Based on a novel H5(C5)NN experiment for probing hydrogen-mediated 2hJ(N,N) scalar couplings as well as measured RDCs, the TAR-ARG complex is stabilized by a U38-A27.U23 base-triple involving an A27.U23 reverse Hoogsteen hydrogen bond alignment as well as by a A22-U40 Watson-Crick base-pair at the junction of stem I. These hydrogen bond alignments are not observed in either the free or Mg2+ bound forms of TAR. The combined conformational analysis of TAR under three states reveals that ligands and divalent ions can stabilize similar RNA global conformations through distinct interactions involving different hydrogen bond alignments in the RNA.
Project description:The ability to modulate alignment and measure multiple independent sets of NMR residual dipolar couplings (RDCs) has made it possible to characterize internal motions in proteins at atomic resolution and with time scale sensitivity ranging from picoseconds up to milliseconds. The application of such methods to the study of RNA dynamics, however, remains fundamentally limited by the inability to modulate alignment and by strong couplings between internal and overall motions that complicate the quantitative interpretation of RDCs. Here, we address this problem by showing that RNA alignment can be generally modulated, in a controlled manner, by variable elongation of A-form helices and that the information contained within the measured RDCs can be extracted even in the presence of strong couplings between motions and overall alignment via structure-based prediction of alignment. Using this approach, four RDC data sets, and a broad conformational pool obtained from a 8.2 ?s molecular dynamics simulation, we successfully construct and validate an atomic resolution ensemble of human immunodeficiency virus type I transactivation response element RNA. This ensemble reveals local motions in and around the bulge involving changes in stacking and hydrogen-bonding interactions, which are undetectable by traditional spin relaxation and drive global changes in interhelical orientation. This new approach broadens the scope of using RDCs in characterizing the dynamics of nucleic acids.
Project description:The straightforward interpretation of solution state residual dipolar couplings (RDCs) in terms of internuclear vector orientations generally requires prior knowledge of the alignment tensor, which in turn is normally estimated using a structural model. We have developed a protocol which allows the requirement for prior structural knowledge to be dispensed with as long as RDC measurements can be made in three independent alignment media. This approach, called Rigid Structure from Dipolar Couplings (RSDC), allows vector orientations and alignment tensors to be determined de novo from just three independent sets of RDCs. It is shown that complications arising from the existence of multiple solutions can be overcome by careful consideration of alignment tensor magnitudes in addition to the agreement between measured and calculated RDCs. Extensive simulations as well applications to the proteins ubiquitin and Staphylococcal protein GB1 demonstrate that this method can provide robust determinations of alignment tensors and amide N-H bond orientations often with better than 10 degrees accuracy, even in the presence of modest levels of internal dynamics.
Project description:Residual dipolar couplings (RDCs) complement standard NOE distance and J-coupling torsion angle data to improve the local and global structure of biomolecules in solution. One powerful application of RDCs is for domain orientation studies, which are especially valuable for structural studies of nucleic acids, where the local structure of a double helix is readily modeled and the orientations of the helical domains can then be determined from RDC data. However, RDCs obtained from only one alignment media generally result in degenerate solutions for the orientation of multiple domains. In protein systems, different alignment media are typically used to eliminate this orientational degeneracy, where the combination of RDCs from two (or more) independent alignment tensors can be used to overcome this degeneracy. It is demonstrated here for native E. coli tRNA(Val) that many of the commonly used liquid crystalline alignment media result in very similar alignment tensors, which do not eliminate the 4-fold degeneracy for orienting the two helical domains in tRNA. The intrinsic magnetic susceptibility anisotropy (MSA) of the nucleobases in tRNA(Val) was also used to obtain RDCs for magnetic alignment at 800 and 900 MHz. While these RDCs yield a different alignment tensor, the specific orientation of this tensor combined with the high rhombicity for the tensors in the liquid crystalline media only eliminates two of the four degenerate orientations for tRNA(Val). Simulations are used to show that, in optimal cases, the combination of RDCs obtained from liquid crystalline medium and MSA-induced alignment can be used to obtain a unique orientation for the two helical domains in tRNA(Val).
Project description:Triple resonance E.COSY-based techniques were used to measure intra-residue and sequential H(N)-H(alpha) residual dipolar couplings (RDCs) for the third IgG-binding domain of protein G (GB3), aligned in Pf1 medium. Measurements closely correlate with values predicted on the basis of an NMR structure, previously determined on the basis of a large number of one-bond backbone RDCs measured in five alignment media. However, in particular the sequential H(N)-H(alpha) RDCs are smaller than predicted for a static structure, suggesting a degree of motion for these internuclear vectors that exceeds that of the backbone amide N-H vectors. Of all experimentally determined GB3 structures available, the best correlation between experimental (1)H-(1)H couplings is observed for a GB3 ensemble, previously derived to generate a realistic picture of the conformational space sampled by GB3 (Clore and Schwieters, J Mol Biol 355:879-886, 2006). However, for both NMR and X-ray-derived structures the (1)H-(1)H couplings are found to be systematically smaller than expected on the basis of alignment tensors derived from (15)N-(1)H amide RDCs, assuming librationally corrected N-H bond lengths of 1.041 A.
Project description:Residual dipolar couplings (RDCs) measured for internally rigid molecular fragments provide important information about the relative orientations of these fragments. Dependent on the symmetry of the alignment tensor and the symmetry of the molecular fragment, however, there generally exist more than one solution for the fragment orientation consistent with the measured RDCs. Analytical solutions are presented that describe the complete set of orientations of internally rigid fragments that are consistent with multiple dipolar couplings measured in a single alignment medium that is rhombic. For the first time, it is shown that, for a planar fragment such as the peptide plane, there generally exist 16 different solutions with their analytical expressions presented explicitly. The presence of these solutions is shown to be highly relevant for standard structure determination protocols using RDCs to refine molecular structures. In particular, when using standard protein structure refinement with RDCs that were measured in a single alignment medium as constraints, it is found that often more than one of the peptide plane solutions is physically viable; i.e., despite being consistent with measured RDCs, the local backbone structure can be incorrect. On the basis of experimental and simulated examples, it is rationalized why protein structures that are refined against RDCs measured in a single medium can have lower resolution (precision) than one would expect on the basis of the experimental accuracy of the RDCs. Conditions are discussed under which the correct solution can be identified.
Project description:Long-range NMR data, namely residual dipolar couplings (RDCs) from external alignment and paramagnetic data, are becoming increasingly popular for the characterization of conformational heterogeneity of multidomain biomacromolecules and protein complexes. The question addressed here is how much information is contained in these averaged data. We have analyzed and compared the information content of conformationally averaged RDCs caused by steric alignment and of both RDCs and pseudocontact shifts caused by paramagnetic alignment, and found that, despite the substantial differences, they contain a similar amount of information. Furthermore, using several synthetic tests we find that both sets of data are equally good towards recovering the major state(s) in conformational distributions.
Project description:Membrane proteins are encoded by 20-35% of genes but represent <1% of known protein structures to date. Thus, improved methods for membrane-protein structure determination are of critical importance. Residual dipolar couplings (RDCs), commonly measured for biological macromolecules weakly aligned by liquid-crystalline media, are important global angular restraints for NMR structure determination. For alpha-helical membrane proteins >15 kDa in size, Nuclear-Overhauser effect-derived distance restraints are difficult to obtain, and RDCs could serve as the main reliable source of NMR structural information. In many of these cases, RDCs would enable full structure determination that otherwise would be impossible. However, none of the existing liquid-crystalline media used to align water-soluble proteins are compatible with the detergents required to solubilize membrane proteins. We report the design and construction of a detergent-resistant liquid crystal of 0.8-microm-long DNA-nanotubes that can be used to induce weak alignment of membrane proteins. The nanotubes are heterodimers of 0.4-microm-long six-helix bundles each self-assembled from a 7.3-kb scaffold strand and >170 short oligonucleotide staple strands. We show that the DNA-nanotube liquid crystal enables the accurate measurement of backbone N(H) and C(alpha)H(alpha) RDCs for the detergent-reconstituted zeta-zeta transmembrane domain of the T cell receptor. The measured RDCs validate the high-resolution structure of this transmembrane dimer. We anticipate that this medium will extend the advantages of weak alignment to NMR structure determination of a broad range of detergent-solubilized membrane proteins.
Project description:The P4 helix is an essential element of ribonuclease P (RNase P) that is believed to bind catalytically important metals. Here, we applied a combination of NMR residual dipolar couplings (RDCs) and a recently introduced domain-elongation strategy for measuring "motionally decoupled" relaxation data to characterize the structural dynamics of the P4 helix from Bacillus subtilis RNase P. In the absence of divalent ions, the two P4 helical domains undergo small amplitude (approximately 13 degrees) collective motions about an average interhelical angle of 10 degrees. The highly conserved U7 bulge and helical residue C8, which are proposed to be important for substrate recognition and metal binding, are locally mobile at pico- to nanosecond timescales and together form the pivot point for the collective domain motions. Chemical shift mapping reveals significant association of Mg2+ ions at the P4 major groove near the flexible pivot point at residues (A5, G22, G23) previously identified to bind catalytically important metals. The Mg2+ ions do not, however, significantly alter the structure or dynamics of P4. Analysis of results in the context of available X-ray structures of the RNA component of RNase P and structural models that include the pre-tRNA substrate suggest that the internal motions observed in P4 likely facilitate adaptive changes in conformation that take place during folding and substrate recognition, possibly aided by interactions with Mg2+ ions. Our results add to a growing view supporting the existence of functionally important internal motions in RNA occurring at nanosecond timescales.