Measuring Residual Dipolar Couplings in Excited Conformational States of Nucleic Acids by CEST NMR Spectroscopy.
ABSTRACT: Nucleic acids undergo structural transitions to access sparsely populated and transiently lived conformational states--or excited conformational states--that play important roles in diverse biological processes. Despite ever-increasing detection of these functionally essential states, 3D structure determination of excited states (ESs) of RNA remains elusive. This is largely due to challenges in obtaining high-resolution structural constraints in these ESs by conventional structural biology approaches. Here, we present nucleic-acid-optimized chemical exchange saturation transfer (CEST) NMR spectroscopy for measuring residual dipolar couplings (RDCs), which provide unique long-range angular constraints in ESs of nucleic acids. We demonstrate these approaches on a fluoride riboswitch, where one-bond (13)C-(1)H RDCs from both base and sugar moieties provide direct structural probes into an ES of the ligand-free riboswitch.
Project description:Characterizing low-populated and short-lived excited conformational states has become increasingly important for understanding mechanisms of RNA function. Interconversion between RNA ground and excited conformational states often involves base pairing rearrangements that lead to changes in the hydrogen-bond network. Here, we present two <sup>15</sup>N chemical exchange saturation transfer (CEST) NMR experiments that utilize protonated and non-protonated nitrogens, which are key hydrogen-bond donors and acceptors, for characterizing excited conformational states in RNA. We demonstrated these approaches on the B. Cereus fluoride riboswitch, where <sup>15</sup>N CEST profiles complement <sup>13</sup>C CEST profiles in depicting a potential pathway for ligand-dependent allosteric regulation of the excited conformational state of the fluoride riboswitch.
Project description:Quantitative characterization of dynamic exchange between various conformational states provides essential insights into the molecular basis of many regulatory RNA functions. Here, we present an application of nucleic-acid-optimized carbon chemical exchange saturation transfer (CEST) and low spin-lock field R(1?) relaxation dispersion (RD) NMR experiments in characterizing slow chemical exchange in nucleic acids that is otherwise difficult if not impossible to be quantified by the ZZ-exchange NMR experiment. We demonstrated the application on a 47-nucleotide fluoride riboswitch in the ligand-free state, for which CEST and R(1?) RD profiles of base and sugar carbons revealed slow exchange dynamics involving a sparsely populated (p ~ 10%) and shortly lived (? ~ 10 ms) NMR "invisible" state. The utility of CEST and low spin-lock field R(1?) RD experiments in studying slow exchange was further validated in characterizing an exchange as slow as ~60 s(-1).
Project description:The visualization of RNA conformational changes has provided fundamental insights into how regulatory RNAs carry out their biological functions. The RNA structural transitions that have been characterized so far involve long-lived species that can be captured by structure characterization techniques. Here we report the nuclear magnetic resonance visualization of RNA transitions towards 'invisible' excited states (ESs), which exist in too little abundance (2-13%) and for too short a duration (45-250??s) to allow structural characterization by conventional techniques. Transitions towards ESs result in localized rearrangements in base-pairing that alter building block elements of RNA architecture, including helix-junction-helix motifs and apical loops. The ES can inhibit function by sequestering residues involved in recognition and signalling or promote ATP-independent strand exchange. Thus, RNAs do not adopt a single conformation, but rather exist in rapid equilibrium with alternative ESs, which can be stabilized by cellular cues to affect functional outcomes.
Project description:Analogous to the recently introduced ARTSY method for measurement of one-bond (1)H-(15)N residual dipolar couplings (RDCs) in large perdeuterated proteins, we introduce methods for measurement of base (13)C-(1)H and (15)N-(1)H RDCs in protonated nucleic acids. Measurements are based on quantitative analysis of intensities in (1)H-(15)N and (13)C-(1)H TROSY-HSQC spectra, and are illustrated for a 71-nucleotide adenine riboswitch. Results compare favorably with those of conventional frequency-based measurements in terms of completeness and convenience of use. The ARTSY method derives the size of the coupling from the ratio of intensities observed in two TROSY-HSQC spectra recorded with different dephasing delays, thereby minimizing potential resonance overlap problems. Precision of the RDC measurements is limited by the signal-to-noise ratio, S/N, achievable in the 2D TROSY-HSQC reference spectrum, and is approximately given by 30/(S/N) Hz for (15)N-(1)H and 65/(S/N) Hz for (13)C-(1)H. The signal-to-noise ratio of both (1)H-(15)N and (1)H-(13)C spectra greatly benefits when water magnetization during the experiments is not perturbed, such that rapid magnetization transfer from bulk water to the nucleic acid, mediated by rapid amino and hydroxyl hydrogen exchange coupled with (1)H-(1)H NOE transfer, allows for fast repetition of the experiment. RDCs in the mutated helix 1 of the riboswitch are compatible with nucleotide-specifically modeled, idealized A-form geometry and a static orientation relative to the helix 2/3 pair, which differs by ca 6° relative to the X-ray structure of the native riboswitch.
Project description:We investigate the pressure-induced structural changes in the mature human immunodeficiency virus type 1 protease dimer, using residual dipolar coupling (RDC) measurements in a weakly oriented solution. (1)DNH RDCs were measured under high-pressure conditions for an inhibitor-free PR and an inhibitor-bound complex, as well as for an inhibitor-free multidrug resistant protease bearing 20 mutations (PR20). While PR20 and the inhibitor-bound PR were little affected by pressure, inhibitor-free PR showed significant differences in the RDCs measured at 600 bar compared with 1 bar. The structural basis of such changes was investigated by MD simulations using the experimental RDC restraints, revealing substantial conformational perturbations, specifically a partial opening of the flaps and the penetration of water molecules into the hydrophobic core of the subunits at high pressure. This study highlights the exquisite sensitivity of RDCs to pressure-induced conformational changes and illustrates how RDCs combined with MD simulations can be used to determine the structural properties of metastable intermediate states on the folding energy landscape.
Project description:Residual dipolar couplings (RDCs) are widely used as orientation-dependent NMR restraints to improve the resolution of the NMR conformational ensemble of biomacromolecules and define the relative orientation of multidomain proteins and protein complexes. However, the interpretation of RDCs is complicated by the intrinsic degeneracy of analytical solutions and protein dynamics that lead to ill-defined orientations of the structural domains (ghost orientations). Here, we illustrate how restraints from paramagnetic relaxation enhancement (PRE) experiments lift the orientational ambiguity of multidomain membrane proteins solubilized in detergent micelles. We tested this approach on monomeric phospholamban (PLN), a 52-residue membrane protein, which is composed of two helical domains connected by a flexible loop. We show that the combination of classical solution NMR restraints (NOEs and dihedral angles) with RDC and PRE constraints resolves topological ambiguities, improving the convergence of the PLN structural ensemble and giving the depth of insertion of the protein within the micelle. The combination of RDCs with PREs will be necessary for improving the accuracy and precision of membrane protein conformational ensembles, where three-dimensional structures are dictated by interactions with the membrane-mimicking environment rather than compact tertiary folds common in globular proteins.
Project description:The X-ray structure of the homodimeric chaperone CesT is the only structure among the type three secretion system (TTSS) chaperones that shows a domain swap. This swap has potential importance for the mechanism of effector translocation through a TTSS. Here we present two nuclear magnetic resonance strategies exploiting pre-existing structural models and residual dipolar couplings (RDCs), which reveal the unswapped 35.4-kDa dimer to be present in solution. Particularly efficient is the discrimination of a swapped and unswapped structural state performed simultaneously to automatic backbone assignment using only HN-RDCs and carbonyl backbone chemical shifts. This direct approach may prove to be generally useful to rapidly differentiate two structural models.
Project description:Knowledge of both apo and holo states of riboswitches aid in elucidating the various mechanisms of ligand-induced conformational "switching" that underpin their gene-regulating capabilities. Previous structural studies on the flavin mononucleotide (FMN)-binding aptamer of the FMN riboswitch, however, have revealed minimal conformational changes associated with ligand binding that do not adequately explain the basis for the switching behavior. We have determined a 2.7-Å resolution crystal structure of the ligand-free FMN riboswitch aptamer that is distinct from previously reported structures, particularly in the conformation and orientation of the P1 and P4 helices. The nearly symmetrical tertiary structure provides a mechanism by which one of two pairs of adjacent helices (P3/P4 or P1/P6) undergo collinear stacking in a mutually exclusive manner, in the absence or presence of ligand, respectively. Comparison of these structures suggests the stem-loop that includes P4 and L4 is important for maintaining a global conformational state that, in the absence of ligand, disfavors formation of the P1 regulatory helix. Together, these results provide further insight to the structural basis for conformational switching of the FMN riboswitch.
Project description:Riboswitches control gene expression through ligand-dependent structural rearrangements of the sensing aptamer domain. However, we found that the Bacillus cereus fluoride riboswitch aptamer adopts identical tertiary structures in solution with and without ligand. Using chemical-exchange saturation transfer (CEST) NMR spectroscopy, we revealed that the structured ligand-free aptamer transiently accesses a low-populated (?1%) and short-lived (?3 ms) excited conformational state that unravels a conserved 'linchpin' base pair to signal transcription termination. Upon fluoride binding, this highly localized, fleeting process is allosterically suppressed, which activates transcription. We demonstrated that this mechanism confers effective fluoride-dependent gene activation over a wide range of transcription rates, which is essential for robust toxicity responses across diverse cellular conditions. These results unveil a novel switching mechanism that employs ligand-dependent suppression of an aptamer excited state to coordinate regulatory conformational transitions rather than adopting distinct aptamer ground-state tertiary architectures, exemplifying a new mode of ligand-dependent RNA regulation.
Project description:Residual dipolar couplings (RDCs) have proven to be a valuable NMR tool that can provide long-range constraints for molecular structure determination. The constraints are orientational in nature and are, thus, highly complementary to conventional distance constraints from NOE data. This complementarity would seem to extend to the study of the geometry of ligands bound to proteins. However, unlike transferred NOEs, where collection, even with a large excess of free ligand, results in measurements dominated by bound contributions, RDCs of exchanging ligands can be dominated by free-state contributions. Here we present a strategy for enhancement of RDCs from bound states that is based on specifically enhancing the alignment of the protein to which a ligand will bind. The protein is modified by addition of a hydrophobic alkyl tail that anchors it to the bicelles that are a part of the ordering medium needed for RDC measurement. As an illustration, we have added a propyl chain to the C terminus of the carbohydrate recognition domain of the protein, Galectin-3, and report enhanced RDCs that prove consistent with known bound-ligand geometries for this protein.