ABSTRACT: RNA-based three-way junctions (3WJs) are naturally occurring structures found in many functional RNA molecules including rRNA, tRNA, snRNA and ribozymes. 3WJs are typically characterized as resulting from an RNA molecule folding back on itself in cis but could also form in trans when one RNA, for instance a microRNA binds to a second structured RNA, such as a mRNA. Trans-3WJs can influence the final shape of one or both of the RNA molecules and can thus provide a means for modulating the availability of regulatory motifs including potential protein or microRNA binding sites. Regulatory 3WJs generated in trans represent a newly identified regulatory category that we call structurally interacting RNA or sxRNA for convenience. Here we show that they can be rationally designed using familiar cis-3WJ examples as a guide. We demonstrate that an sxRNA "bait" sequence can be designed to interact with a specific microRNA "trigger" sequence, creating a regulatable RNA-binding protein motif that retains its functional activity. Further, we show that when placed downstream of a coding sequence, sxRNA can be used to switch "ON" translation of that sequence in the presence of the trigger microRNA and the amount of translation corresponded with the amount of microRNA present.
Project description:The thermodynamic stabilities of four natural prohead or packaging RNA (pRNA) three-way junction (3WJ) nanomotifs and seven phi29 pRNA 3WJ deletion mutant nanomotifs were investigated using UV optical melting on a three-component RNA system. Our data reveal that some pRNA 3WJs are more stable than the phi29 pRNA 3WJ. The stability of the 3WJ contributes to the unique self-assembly properties of pRNA. Thus, ultrastable pRNA 3WJ motifs suggest new scaffolds for pRNA-based nanotechnology. We present data demonstrating that pRNA 3WJs differentially respond to the presence of metal ions. A comparison of our data with free energies predicted by currently available RNA secondary structure prediction programs shows that these programs do not accurately predict multibranch loop stabilities. These results will expand the existing parameters used for RNA secondary structure prediction from sequence in order to better inform RNA structure-function hypotheses and guide the rational design of functional RNA supramolecular assemblies.
Project description:We present extensive explicit solvent molecular dynamics analysis of three RNA three-way junctions (3WJs) from the large ribosomal subunit: the 3WJ formed by Helices 90-92 (H90-H92) of 23S rRNA; the 3WJ formed by H42-H44 organizing the GTPase associated center (GAC) of 23S rRNA; and the 3WJ of 5S rRNA. H92 near the peptidyl transferase center binds the 3'-CCA end of amino-acylated tRNA. The GAC binds protein factors and stimulates GTP hydrolysis driving protein synthesis. The 5S rRNA binds the central protuberance and A-site finger (ASF) involved in bridges with the 30S subunit. The simulations reveal that all three 3WJs possess significant anisotropic hinge-like flexibility between their stacked stems and dynamics within the compact regions of their adjacent stems. The A-site 3WJ dynamics may facilitate accommodation of tRNA, while the 5S 3WJ flexibility appears to be essential for coordinated movements of ASF and 5S rRNA. The GAC 3WJ may support large-scale dynamics of the L7/L12-stalk region. The simulations reveal that H42-H44 rRNA segments are not fully relaxed and in the X-ray structures they are bent towards the large subunit. The bending may be related to L10 binding and is distributed between the 3WJ and the H42-H97 contact.
Project description:The question of whether RNA is more stable or unstable compared to DNA or other nucleic acids has long been a subject of extensive scrutiny and public attention. Recently, thermodynamically stable and degradation-resistant RNA motifs have been utilized in RNA nanotechnology to build desired architectures and integrate multiple functional groups. Here we report the effects of phosphorothioate deoxyribonucleotides (PS-DNA), deoxyribonucleotides (DNA), ribonucleotides (RNA), 2'-F nucleotides (2'-F), and locked nucleic acids (LNA) on the thermal and in vivo stability of the three-way junction (3WJ) of bacteriophage phi29 motor packaging RNA. It was found that the thermal stability gradually increased following the order of PS-DNA/PS-DNA < DNA/DNA < DNA/RNA < RNA/RNA < RNA/2'-F RNA < 2'-F RNA/2'-F RNA < 2'-F RNA/LNA < LNA/LNA. This proposition is supported by studies on strand displacement and the melting of homogeneous and heterogeneous 3WJs. By simply mixing different chemically modified oligonucleotides, the thermal stability of phi29 pRNA 3WJ can be tuned to cover a wide range of melting temperatures from 21.2°C to over 95°C. The 3WJLNA was resistant to boiling temperature denaturation, urea denaturation, and 50% serum degradation. Intravenous injection of fluorescent LNA/2'-F hybrid 3WJs into mice revealed its exceptional in vivo stability and presence in urine. It is thus concluded that incorporation of LNA nucleotides, alone or in combination with 2'-F, into RNA nanoparticles derived from phi29 pRNA 3WJ can extend the half-life of the RNA nanoparticles in vivo and improve their pharmacokinetics profile.
Project description:DNA three-way junctions (3WJs) are essential structural motifs for DNA nanoarchitectures and DNA-based materials. We report herein a metal-responsive structural transformation between DNA duplexes and 3WJs using artificial oligonucleotides modified with a 2,2'-bipyridine (bpy) ligand. A mixture of bpy-modified DNA strands and natural complementary strands were self-assembled exclusively into duplexes without any transition metal ions, while they formed 3WJs in the presence of NiII ions. This transformation was induced by the formation of an interstrand NiII(bpy)3 complex, which served as a template for the 3WJ assembly. Altering the amount and identity of the metal ion regulated the 3WJ induction efficiency. Removal of the metal using EDTA quantitatively regenerated the duplexes. The metal-dependent structural conversion shown here has many potential applications in the development of stimuli-responsive DNA materials.
Project description:In response to injuries to the CNS, astrocytes enter a reactive state known as astrogliosis, which is believed to be deleterious in some contexts. Activated astrocytes overexpress intermediate filaments including glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and vimentin (Vim), resulting in entangled cells that inhibit neurite growth and functional recovery. Reactive astrocytes also secrete inflammatory molecules such as Lipocalin 2 (Lcn2), which perpetuate reactivity and adversely affect other cells of the CNS. Herein, we report proof-of-concept use of the packaging RNA (pRNA)-derived three-way junction (3WJ) motif as a platform for the delivery of siRNAs to downregulate such reactivity-associated genes. In vitro, siRNA-3WJs induced a significant knockdown of Gfap, Vim, and Lcn2 in a model of astroglial activation, with a concomitant reduction in protein expression. Knockdown of Lcn2 also led to reduced protein secretion from reactive astroglial cells, significantly impeding the perpetuation of inflammation in otherwise quiescent astrocytes. Intralesional injection of anti-Lcn2-3WJs in mice with contusion spinal cord injury led to knockdown of Lcn2 at mRNA and protein levels in vivo. Our results provide evidence for siRNA-3WJs as a promising platform for ameliorating astroglial reactivity, with significant potential for further functionalization and adaptation for therapeutic applications in the CNS.
Project description:Controlling the selective one-to-one conjugation of RNA with nanoparticles is vital for future applications of RNA nanotechnology. Here, the monofunctionalization of a gold nanoparticle (AuNP) with a single copy of RNA is developed for ultrasensitive microRNA-155 quantification using electrochemical surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (EC-SERS). A single AuNP is conjugated with one copy of the packaging RNA (pRNA) three-way junction (RNA 3WJ). pRNA 3WJ containing one strand of the 3WJ is connected to a Sephadex G100 aptamer and a biotin group at each arm (SEPapt/3WJ/Bio) which is then immobilized to the Sephadex G100 resin. The resulting complex is connected to streptavidin-coated AuNP (STV/AuNP). Next, the STV/AuNP-Bio/3WJa is purified and reassembled with another 3WJ to form a single-labeled 3WJ/AuNP. Later, the monoconjugate is immobilized onto the AuNP-electrodeposited indium tin oxide coated substrate for detecting microRNA-155 based on EC-SERS. Application of an optimum potential of +0.2 V results in extraordinary amplification (?7 times) of methylene blue (reporter) SERS signal compared to the normal SERS signal. As a result, a highly sensitive detection of 60 × 10-18 m microRNA-155 in 1 h in serum based on monoconjugated AuNP/RNA is achieved. Thus, the monofunctionalization of RNA onto nanoparticle can provide a new methodology for biosensor construction and diverse RNA nanotechnology development.
Project description:Translation of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA genome is regulated by the internal ribosome entry site (IRES), located in the 5'-untranslated region (5'UTR) and part of the core protein coding sequence, and by the 3'UTR. The 5'UTR has some highly conserved structural regions, while others can assume different conformations. The IRES can bind to the ribosomal 40S subunit with high affinity without any other factors. Nevertheless, IRES activity is modulated by additional cis sequences in the viral genome, including the 3'UTR and the cis-acting replication element (CRE). Canonical translation initiation factors (eIFs) are involved in HCV translation initiation, including eIF3, eIF2, eIF1A, eIF5, and eIF5B. Alternatively, under stress conditions and limited eIF2-Met-tRNAiMet availability, alternative initiation factors such as eIF2D, eIF2A, and eIF5B can substitute for eIF2 to allow HCV translation even when cellular mRNA translation is downregulated. In addition, several IRES trans-acting factors (ITAFs) modulate IRES activity by building large networks of RNA-protein and protein-protein interactions, also connecting 5'- and 3'-ends of the viral RNA. Moreover, some ITAFs can act as RNA chaperones that help to position the viral AUG start codon in the ribosomal 40S subunit entry channel. Finally, the liver-specific microRNA-122 (miR-122) stimulates HCV IRES-dependent translation, most likely by stabilizing a certain structure of the IRES that is required for initiation.
Project description:CPEB is a sequence-specific RNA-binding protein that promotes polyadenylation-induced translation in oocytes and neurons. Vertebrates contain three additional genes that encode CPEB-like proteins, all of which are expressed in the brain. Here, we use SELEX, RNA structure probing, and RNA footprinting to show that CPEB and the CPEB-like proteins interact with different RNA sequences and thus constitute different classes of RNA-binding proteins. In transfected neurons, CPEB3 represses the translation of a reporter RNA in tethered function assays; in response to NMDA receptor activation, translation is stimulated. In contrast to CPEB, CPEB3-mediated translation is unlikely to involve cytoplasmic polyadenylation, as it requires neither the cis-acting AAUAAA nor the trans-acting cleavage and polyadenylation specificity factor, both of which are necessary for CPEB-induced polyadenylation. One target of CPEB3-mediated translation is GluR2 mRNA; not only does CPEB3 bind this RNA in vitro and in vivo, but an RNAi knockdown of CPEB3 in neurons results in elevated levels of GluR2 protein. These results indicate that CPEB3 is a sequence-specific translational regulatory protein.
Project description:Expansions of CAG/CTG trinucleotide repeats in DNA are the cause of at least 17 degenerative human disorders, including Huntington's Disease. Repeat instability is thought to occur via the formation of intrastrand hairpins during replication, repair, recombination, and transcription though relatively little is known about their structure and dynamics. We use single-molecule Förster resonance energy transfer to study DNA three-way junctions (3WJs) containing slip-outs composed of CAG or CTG repeats. 3WJs that only have repeats in the slip-out show two-state behavior, which we attribute to conformational flexibility at the 3WJ branchpoint. When the triplet repeats extend into the adjacent duplex, additional dynamics are observed, which we assign to interconversion of positional isomers. We propose a branchpoint migration model that involves conformational rearrangement, strand exchange, and bulge-loop movement. This migration has implications for how repeat slip-outs are processed by the cellular machinery, disease progression, and their development as drug targets.
Project description:While both individual transcription factors and cis-acting sites have been studied in relation to psychiatric disorders, there is little knowledge of the relative contribution of trans-acting and cis-acting factors to gene transcription in the brain. Using an RNA-seq approach in mice bred from two evolutionary-distinct mice strains, we determined the contribution of cis and trans factors to gene expression in the prefrontal cortex and amygdala, two regions of the brain relevant to the stress response, and the contribution of cis and trans factors in the prefrontal cortex after Chronic Social Defeat (CSD) in mice. More genes were regulated by cis-regulatory factors in both brain regions, underlying the importance of cis-acting gene regulation in the brain. However, there was an increase in genes regulated by trans-regulatory mechanisms in the amygdala, compared to the prefrontal cortex. These genes were involved in synaptic functions, and were enriched for binding sites for transcription factors, including Egr1. CSD induced an increase in genes regulated by trans-regulatory mechanisms in the prefrontal cortex, and induced a pattern similar to the unstressed amygdala. Overall, we show brain site-specific patterns in cis and trans regulatory mechanisms, and show that these patterns can be modified by a psychological trigger.