NMR localization of divalent cations at the active site of the Neurospora VS ribozyme provides insights into RNA-metal-ion interactions.
ABSTRACT: Metal cations represent key elements of RNA structure and function. In the Neurospora VS ribozyme, metal cations play diverse roles; they are important for substrate recognition, formation of the active site, and shifting the pKa's of two key nucleobases that contribute to the general acid-base mechanism. Recently, we determined the NMR structure of the A730 loop of the VS ribozyme active site (SLVI) that contributes the general acid (A756) in the enzymatic mechanism of the cleavage reaction. Our studies showed that magnesium (Mg(2+)) ions are essential to stabilize the formation of the S-turn motif within the A730 loop that exposes the A756 nucleobase for catalysis. In this article, we extend these NMR investigations by precisely mapping the Mg(2+)-ion binding sites using manganese-induced paramagnetic relaxation enhancement and cadmium-induced chemical-shift perturbation of phosphorothioate RNAs. These experiments identify five Mg(2+)-ion binding sites within SLVI. Four Mg(2+) ions in SLVI are associated with known RNA structural motifs, including the G-U wobble pair and the GNRA tetraloop, and our studies reveal novel insights about Mg(2+) ion binding to these RNA motifs. Interestingly, one Mg(2+) ion is specifically associated with the S-turn motif, confirming its structural role in the folding of the A730 loop. This Mg(2+) ion is likely important for formation of the active site and may play an indirect role in catalysis.
Project description:The Neurospora VS ribozyme is a small nucleolytic ribozyme with unique primary, secondary and global tertiary structures, which displays mechanistic similarities to the hairpin ribozyme. Here, we determined the high-resolution NMR structure of a stem-loop VI fragment containing the A730 internal loop, which forms part of the active site. In the presence of magnesium ions, the A730 loop adopts a structure that is consistent with existing biochemical data and most likely reflects its conformation in the VS ribozyme prior to docking with the cleavage site internal loop. Interestingly, the A730 loop adopts an S-turn motif that is also present in loop B within the hairpin ribozyme active site. The S-turn appears necessary to expose the Watson-Crick edge of a catalytically important residue (A756) so that it can fulfill its role in catalysis. The A730 loop and the cleavage site loop of the VS ribozyme display structural similarities to internal loops found in the active site of the hairpin ribozyme. These similarities provided a rationale to build a model of the VS ribozyme active site based on the crystal structure of the hairpin ribozyme.
Project description:Herein we summarize our progress toward the understanding of hammerhead ribozyme (HHR) catalysis through a multiscale simulation strategy. Simulation results collectively paint a picture of HHR catalysis: HHR first folds to form an electronegative active site pocket to recruit a threshold occupation of cationic charges, either a Mg(2+) ion or multiple monovalent cations. Catalytically active conformations that have good in-line fitness are supported by specific metal ion coordination patterns that involve either a bridging Mg(2+) ion or multiple Na(+) ions, one of which is also in a bridging coordination pattern. In the case of a single Mg(2+) ion bound in the active site, the Mg(2+) ion undergoes a migration that is coupled with deprotonation of the nucleophile (C17:O2'). As the reaction proceeds, the Mg(2+) ion stabilizes the accumulating charge of the leaving group and significantly increases the general acid ability of G8:O2'. Further computational mutagenesis simulations suggest that the disruptions due to mutations may severely impact HHR catalysis at different stages of the reaction. Catalytic mechanisms supported by the simulation results are consistent with available structural and biochemical experiments, and together they advance our understanding of HHR catalysis.
Project description:The hepatitis delta virus (HDV) ribozyme and related RNAs are widely dispersed in nature. This RNA is a small nucleolytic ribozyme that self-cleaves to generate products with a 2',3'-cyclic phosphate and a free 5'-hydroxyl. Although small ribozymes are dependent on divalent metal ions under biologically relevant buffer conditions, they function in the absence of divalent metal ions at high ionic strengths. This characteristic suggests that a functional group within the covalent structure of small ribozymes is facilitating catalysis. Structural and mechanistic analyses have demonstrated that the HDV ribozyme active site contains a cytosine with a perturbed pK(a) that serves as a general acid to protonate the leaving group. The reaction of the HDV ribozyme in monovalent cations alone never approaches the velocity of the Mg(2+)-dependent reaction, and there is significant biochemical evidence that a Mg(2+) ion participates directly in catalysis. A recent crystal structure of the HDV ribozyme revealed that there is a metal binding pocket in the HDV ribozyme active site. Modeling of the cleavage site into the structure suggested that this metal ion can interact directly with the scissile phosphate and the nucleophile. In this manner, the Mg(2+) ion can serve as a Lewis acid, facilitating deprotonation of the nucleophile and stabilizing the conformation of the cleavage site for in-line attack of the nucleophile at the scissile phosphate. This catalytic strategy had previously been observed only in much larger ribozymes. Thus, in contrast to most large and small ribozymes, the HDV ribozyme uses two distinct catalytic strategies in its cleavage reaction.
Project description:The recently discovered twister ribozyme is thought to utilize general acid-base catalysis in its self-cleavage mechanism, but the roles of nucleobases and metal ions in the mechanism are unclear. Herein, molecular dynamics simulations of the env22 twister ribozyme are performed to elucidate the structural and equilibrium dynamical properties, as well as to examine the role of Mg(2+) ions and possible candidates for the general base and acid in the self-cleavage mechanism. The active site region and the ends of the pseudoknots were found to be less mobile than other regions of the ribozyme, most likely providing structural stability and possibly facilitating catalysis. A purported catalytic Mg(2+) ion and the closest neighboring Mg(2+) ion remained chelated and relatively immobile throughout the microsecond trajectories, although removal of these Mg(2+) ions did not lead to any significant changes in the structure or equilibrium motions of the ribozyme on the microsecond time scale. In addition, a third metal ion, a Na(+) ion remained close to A1(O5'), the leaving group atom, during the majority of the microsecond trajectories, suggesting that it might stabilize the negative charge on A1(O5') during self-cleavage. The locations of these cations and their interactions with key nucleotides in the active site suggest that they may be catalytically relevant. The P1 stem is partially melted at its top and bottom in the crystal structure and further unwinds in the trajectories. The simulations also revealed an interconnected network comprised of hydrogen-bonding and ?-stacking interactions that create a relatively rigid network around the self-cleavage site. The nucleotides involved in this network are among the highly conserved nucleotides in twister ribozymes, suggesting that this interaction network may be important to structure and function.
Project description:The VS ribozyme comprises five helical segments (II-VI) in a formal H shape, organized by two three-way junctions. It interacts with its stem-loop substrate (I) by tertiary interactions. We have determined the global shape of the 3-4-5 junction (relating helices III-V) by electrophoresis and FRET. Estimation of the dihedral angle between helices II and V electrophoretically has allowed us to build a model for the global structure of the complete ribozyme. We propose that the substrate is docked into a cleft between helices II and VI, with its loop making a tertiary interaction with that of helix V. This is consistent with the dependence of activity on the length of helix III. The scissile phosphate is well placed to interact with the probable active site of the ribozyme, the loop containing A730.
Project description:Divalent cations play critical structural and functional roles in many RNAs. While the hepatitis delta virus (HDV) ribozyme can undergo self-cleavage in the presence of molar concentrations of monovalent cations, divalent cations such as Mg(2+) are required for efficient catalysis under physiological conditions. Moreover, the cleavage reaction can be inhibited with Co(NH(3))(6)(3+), an analogue of Mg(H(2)O)(6)(2+). Here, the binding of Mg(2+) and Co(NH(3))(6)(3+) to the HDV ribozyme is studied by Raman microscopic analysis of crystals. Raman difference spectra acquired at different metal ion conditions reveal changes in the ribozyme. When Mg(2+) alone is introduced to the ribozyme, inner sphere coordination of Mg(H(2)O)(x)(2+) (x </= 5) to nonbridging PO(2)(-) oxygen and changes in base stretches and phosphodiester group conformation are observed. In addition, binding of Mg(2+) induces deprotonation of a cytosine assigned to the general acid C75, consistent with solution studies. When Co(NH(3))(6)(3+) alone is introduced, deprotonation of C75 is again observed, as are distinctive changes in base vibrational ring modes and phosphodiester backbone conformation. In contrast to Mg(2+) binding, Co(NH(3))(6)(3+) binding does not perturb PO(2)(-) group vibrations, consistent with its ability to make only outer sphere contacts. Surprisingly, competitive binding studies reveal that Co(NH(3))(6)(3+) ions displace some inner sphere-coordinated magnesium species, including ions coordinated to PO(2)(-) groups or the N7 of a guanine, likely G1 at the active site. These observations contrast with the tenet that Co(NH(3))(6)(3+) ions displace only outer sphere magnesium ions. Overall, our data support two classes of inner sphere Mg(2+)-PO(2)(-) binding sites: sites that Co(NH(3))(6)(3+) can displace and others it cannot.
Project description:We have obtained a 1.55-Å crystal structure of a hammerhead ribozyme derived from Schistosoma mansoni under conditions that permit detailed observations of Na(+) ion binding in the ribozyme's active site. At least two such Na(+) ions are observed. The first Na(+) ion binds to the N7 of G10.1 and the adjacent A9 phosphate in a manner identical with that previously observed for divalent cations. A second Na(+) ion binds to the Hoogsteen face of G12, the general base in the hammerhead cleavage reaction, thereby potentially dissipating the negative charge of the catalytically active enolate form of the nucleotide base. A potential but more ambiguous third site bridges the A9 and scissile phosphates in a manner consistent with that of previous predictions. Hammerhead ribozymes have been observed to be active in the presence of high concentrations of monovalent cations, including Na(+), but the mechanism by which monovalent cations substitute for divalent cations in hammerhead catalysis remains unclear. Our results enable us to suggest that Na(+) directly and specifically substitutes for divalent cations in the hammerhead active site. The detailed geometry of the pre-catalytic active-site complex is also revealed with a new level of precision, thanks to the quality of the electron density maps obtained from what is currently the highest-resolution ribozyme structure in the Protein Data Bank.
Project description:The glmS ribozyme is a conserved riboswitch found in numerous Gram-positive bacteria and responds to the cellular concentrations of glucosamine 6-phosphate (GlcN6P). GlcN6P binding promotes site-specific self-cleavage in the 5' UTR of the glmS mRNA, resulting in downregulation of gene expression. The glmS ribozyme has previously been shown to lack strong cation specificity when the rate-limiting folding step of the cleavage reaction pathway is measured. This does not provide data regarding cation and ligand specificities of the glmS ribozyme during the rapid ligand binding chemical catalysis events. Prefolding of the ribozyme in Mg(2+)-containing buffers effectively isolates the rapid ligand binding and catalytic events (k(obs) > 60 min(-1)) from rate-limiting folding (k(obs) < 4 min(-1)). Here we employ this experimental design to assay the cations and ligand requirements for rapid ligand binding and catalysis. We show that molar concentrations of monovalent cations are also capable of inducing the formation of the native GlcN6P binding structure but are unable to promote ligand binding and catalysis rates of >4 min(-1). Our data show that the sole obligatory role for divalent cations, for which there is crystallographic evidence, is coordination of the phosphate moiety of GlcN6P in the ligand-binding pocket. In further support of this hypothesis, our data show that a nonphosphorylated analogue of GlcN6P, glucosamine, is unable to promote rapid ligand binding and catalysis in the presence of divalent cations. Folding of the ribozyme is, therefore, relatively independent of cation identity, but the rapid initiation of catalysis upon the addition of ligand is stricter.
Project description:The crystal structure of the precleaved form of the hepatitis delta virus (HDV) ribozyme reveals two G•U wobbles near the active site: a rare reverse G•U wobble involving a syn G base, and a standard G•U wobble at the cleavage site. The catalytic mechanism for this ribozyme has been proposed to involve a Mg(2+) ion bound to the reverse G•U wobble, as well as a protonated C75 base. We carried out molecular dynamics simulations to analyze metal ion interaction with the reverse and standard G•U wobbles and to investigate the impact of C75 protonation on the structure and motions of the ribozyme. We identified two types of Mg(2+) ions associated with the ribozyme, chelated and diffuse, at the reverse and standard G•U wobbles, respectively, which appear to contribute to catalysis and stability, respectively. These two metal ion sites exhibit relatively independent behavior. Protonation of C75 was observed to locally organize the active site in a manner that facilitates the catalytic mechanism, in which C75(+) acts as a general acid and Mg(2+) as a Lewis acid. The simulations also indicated that the overall structure and thermal motions of the ribozyme are not significantly influenced by the catalytic Mg(2+) interaction or C75 protonation. This analysis suggests that the reaction pathway of the ribozyme is dominated by small local motions at the active site rather than large-scale global conformational changes. These results are consistent with a wealth of experimental data.
Project description:The hepatitis delta virus (HDV) ribozyme uses both metal ion and nucleobase catalysis in its cleavage mechanism. A reverse G·U wobble was observed in a recent crystal structure of the precleaved state. This unusual base pair positions a Mg(2+) ion to participate in catalysis. Herein, we used molecular dynamics (MD) and X-ray crystallography to characterize the conformation and metal binding characteristics of this base pair in product and precleaved forms. Beginning with a crystal structure of the product form, we observed formation of the reverse G·U wobble during MD trajectories. We also demonstrated that this base pair is compatible with the diffraction data for the product-bound state. During MD trajectories of the product form, Na(+) ions interacted with the reverse G·U wobble in the RNA active site, and a Mg(2+) ion, introduced in certain trajectories, remained bound at this site. Beginning with a crystal structure of the precleaved form, the reverse G·U wobble with bound Mg(2+) remained intact during MD simulations. When we removed Mg(2+) from the starting precleaved structure, Na(+) ions interacted with the reverse G·U wobble. In support of the computational results, we observed competition between Na(+) and Mg(2+) in the precleaved ribozyme crystallographically. Nonlinear Poisson-Boltzmann calculations revealed a negatively charged patch near the reverse G·U wobble. This anionic pocket likely serves to bind metal ions and to help shift the pK(a) of the catalytic nucleobase, C75. Thus, the reverse G·U wobble motif serves to organize two catalytic elements, a metal ion and catalytic nucleobase, within the active site of the HDV ribozyme.