Structure and Dynamics of RNA Repeat Expansions That Cause Huntington's Disease and Myotonic Dystrophy Type 1.
ABSTRACT: RNA repeat expansions cause a host of incurable, genetically defined diseases. The most common class of RNA repeats consists of trinucleotide repeats. These long, repeating transcripts fold into hairpins containing 1 × 1 internal loops that can mediate disease via a variety of mechanism(s) in which RNA is the central player. Two of these disorders are Huntington's disease and myotonic dystrophy type 1, which are caused by r(CAG) and r(CUG) repeats, respectively. We report the structures of two RNA constructs containing three copies of a r(CAG) [r(3×CAG)] or r(CUG) [r(3×CUG)] motif that were modeled with nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and simulated annealing with restrained molecular dynamics. The 1 × 1 internal loops of r(3×CAG) are stabilized by one-hydrogen bond (cis Watson-Crick/Watson-Crick) AA pairs, while those of r(3×CUG) prefer one- or two-hydrogen bond (cis Watson-Crick/Watson-Crick) UU pairs. Assigned chemical shifts for the residues depended on the identity of neighbors or next nearest neighbors. Additional insights into the dynamics of these RNA constructs were gained by molecular dynamics simulations and a discrete path sampling method. Results indicate that the global structures of the RNA are A-form and that the loop regions are dynamic. The results will be useful for understanding the dynamic trajectory of these RNA repeats but also may aid in the development of therapeutics.
Project description:PNA is a promising molecule for antisense therapy of trinucleotide repeat disorders. We present the first crystal structures of RNA-PNA duplexes. They contain CUG repeats, relevant to myotonic dystrophy type I, and CAG repeats associated with poly-glutamine diseases. We also report the first PNA-PNA duplex containing mismatches. A comparison of the PNA homoduplex and the PNA-RNA heteroduplexes reveals PNA's intrinsic structural properties, shedding light on its reported sequence selectivity or intolerance of mismatches when it interacts with nucleic acids. PNA has a much lower helical twist than RNA and the resulting duplex has an intermediate conformation. PNA retains its overall conformation while locally there is much disorder, especially peptide bond flipping. In addition to the Watson-Crick pairing, the structures contain interesting interactions between the RNA's phosphate groups and the ? electrons of the peptide bonds in PNA.
Project description:Thirty-five RNA duplexes containing single nucleotide bulge loops were optically melted and the thermodynamic parameters for each duplex determined. The bulge loops were of the group III variety, where the bulged nucleotide is either a AG/U or CU/G, leading to ambiguity to the exact position and identity of the bulge. All possible group III bulge loops with Watson-Crick nearest-neighbors were examined. The data were used to develop a model to predict the free energy of an RNA duplex containing a group III single nucleotide bulge loop. The destabilization of the duplex by the group III bulge could be modeled so that the bulge nucleotide leads to the formation of the Watson-Crick base pair rather than the wobble base pair. The destabilization of an RNA duplex caused by the insertion of a group III bulge is primarily dependent upon non-nearest-neighbor interactions and was shown to be dependent upon the stability of second least stable stem of the duplex. In-line structure probing of group III bulge loops embedded in a hairpin indicated that the bulged nucleotide is the one positioned further from the hairpin loop irrespective of whether the resulting stem formed a Watson-Crick or wobble base pair. Fourteen RNA hairpins containing group III bulge loops, either 3' or 5' of the hairpin loop, were optically melted and the thermodynamic parameters determined. The model developed to predict the influence of group III bulge loops on the stability of duplex formation was extended to predict the influence of bulge loops on hairpin stability.
Project description:The CGG repeats are present in the 5'-untranslated region (5'-UTR) of the fragile X mental retardation gene FMR1 and are associated with two diseases: fragile X-associated tremor ataxia syndrome (FXTAS) and fragile X syndrome (FXS). FXTAS occurs when the number of repeats is 55-200 and FXS develops when the number exceeds 200. FXTAS is an RNA-mediated disease in which the expanded CGG tracts form stable structures and sequester important RNA binding proteins. We obtained and analysed three crystal structures of double-helical CGG repeats involving unmodified and 8-Br modified guanosine residues. Despite the presence of the non-canonical base pairs, the helices retain an A-form. In the G-G pairs one guanosine is always in the syn conformation, the other is anti. There are two hydrogen bonds between the Watson-Crick edge of G(anti) and the Hoogsteen edge of G(syn): O6·N1H and N7·N2H. The G(syn)-G(anti) pair shows affinity for binding ions in the major groove. G(syn) causes local unwinding of the helix, compensated elsewhere along the duplex. CGG helical structures appear relatively stable compared with CAG and CUG tracts. This could be an important factor in the RNA's ligand binding affinity and specificity.
Project description:Tracks containing CUG repeats are abundant in human gene transcripts. Their biological role includes modulation of pre-mRNA splicing, mRNA transport and regulation of translation. Expanded forms of CUG runs are associated with pathogenesis of several neurodegenerative diseases, including myotonic dystrophy type 1. We have analysed two crystal structures of RNA duplexes containing the CUG repeats: G(CUG)(2)C and (CUG)(6). The first of the structures, analysed at 1.23 A resolution, is of an oligomer designed by us. The second model was obtained after 'detwinning' the 1.58 A X-ray data previously deposited in the PDB. The RNA duplexes are in the A-form in which all the C-G pairs form Watson-Crick interactions while all the uridine pairs can be described as U*U cis wobble having only one hydrogen bond between the bases. The residue, which accepts the H-bond, is inclined towards the minor groove. This previously unreported base pairing can be described as 'stretched U-U wobble'. The regular hydrogen-bonding pattern of interactions with the solvent, the electrostatic charge distribution and surface features indicate the ligand binding potential of the CUG tracks.
Project description:Expanded CAG nucleotide repeats are the underlying genetic cause of at least 14 incurable diseases, including Huntington's disease (HD). The toxicity associated with many CAG repeat expansions is thought to be due to the translation of the CAG repeat to create a polyQ protein, which forms toxic oligomers and aggregates. However, recent studies show that HD CAG repeats undergo a non-canonical form of translation called Repeat-associated non-AUG dependent (RAN) translation. RAN translation of the CAG sense and CUG anti-sense RNAs produces six distinct repeat peptides: polyalanine (polyAla, from both CAG and CUG repeats), polyserine (polySer), polyleucine (polyLeu), polycysteine (polyCys), and polyglutamine (polyGln). The toxic potential of individual CAG-derived RAN polypeptides is not well understood. We developed pure C. elegans protein models for each CAG RAN polypeptide using codon-varied expression constructs that preserve RAN protein sequence but eliminate repetitive CAG/CUG RNA. While all RAN polypeptides formed aggregates, only polyLeu was consistently toxic across multiple cell types. In GABAergic neurons, which exhibit significant neurodegeneration in HD patients, codon-varied (Leu)38, but not (Gln)38, caused substantial neurodegeneration and motility defects. Our studies provide the first in vivo evaluation of CAG-derived RAN polypeptides in a multicellular model organism and suggest that polyQ-independent mechanisms, such as RAN-translated polyLeu peptides, may have a significant pathological role in CAG repeat expansion disorders.
Project description:The structure of a 22-base-pair RNA helix with mismatched pyrimidine base pairs is reported. The helix contains two symmetry-related CUG sequences: a triplet-repeat motif implicated in myotonic dystrophy type 1. The CUG repeat contains a U-U mismatch sandwiched between Watson-Crick pairs. Additionally, the center of the helix contains a dimerized UUCG motif with tandem pyrimidine (U-C/C-U) mismatches flanked by U-G wobble pairs. This region of the structure is significantly different from previously observed structures that share the same sequence and neighboring base pairs. The tandem pyrimidine mismatches are unusual and display sheared, cross-strand stacking geometries that locally constrict the helical width, a type of stacking previously associated with purines in internal loops. Thus, pyrimidine-rich regions of RNA have a high degree of structural diversity.
Project description:Thermodynamic stabilities of 2 x 2 nucleotide tandem AG internal loops in RNA range from -1.3 to +3.4 kcal/mol at 37 degrees C and are not predicted well with a hydrogen-bonding model. To provide structural information to facilitate development of more sophisticated models for the sequence dependence of stability, we report the NMR solution structures of five RNA duplexes: (rGACGAGCGUCA)(2), (rGACUAGAGUCA)(2), (rGACAAGUGUCA)(2), (rGGUAGGCCA)(2), and (rGACGAGUGUCA)(2). The structures of these duplexes are compared to that of the previously solved (rGGCAGGCC)(2) (Wu, M., SantaLucia, J., Jr., and Turner, D. H. (1997) Biochemistry 36, 4449-4460). For loops bounded by Watson-Crick pairs, the AG and Watson-Crick pairs are all head-to-head imino-paired (cis Watson-Crick/Watson-Crick). The structures suggest that the sequence-dependent stability may reflect non-hydrogen-bonding interactions. Of the two loops bounded by G-U pairs, only the 5'UAGG/3'GGAU loop adopts canonical UG wobble pairing (cis Watson-Crick/Watson-Crick), with AG pairs that are only weakly imino-paired. Strikingly, the 5'GAGU/3'UGAG loop has two distinct duplex conformations, the major of which has both guanosine residues (G4 and G6 in (rGACGAGUGUCA)(2)) in a syn glycosidic bond conformation and forming a sheared GG pair (G4-G6*, GG trans Watson-Crick/Hoogsteen), both uracils (U7 and U7*) flipped out of the helix, and an AA pair (A5-A5*) in a dynamic or stacked conformation. These structures provide benchmarks for computational investigations into interactions responsible for the unexpected differences in loop free energies and structure.
Project description:Myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1) is caused by expansion of a CTG repeat in the gene DMPK. The expansion is highly unstable in somatic cells, a feature that may contribute to disease progression. The RNA expressed from the mutant allele exerts a toxic gain of function, due to the presence of an expanded CUG repeat (CUG(exp)). This RNA dominant mechanism is amenable to therapeutic intervention with antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs). For example, CAG-repeat ASOs that bind CUG(exp) RNA are beneficial in DM1 models by altering the protein interactions or metabolism of the toxic RNA. Because CUG(exp) RNA has been shown to aggravate instability of expanded CTG repeats, we studied whether CAG-repeat ASOs may also affect this aspect of DM1. In human cells the instability of (CTG)(800) was suppressed by addition of CAG-repeat ASOs to the culture media. In mice that carry a DMPK transgene the somatic instability of (CTG)(800) was suppressed by direct injection of CAG-repeat ASOs into muscle tissue. These results raise the possibility that early intervention with ASOs to reduce RNA or protein toxicity may have the additional benefit of stabilizing CTG:CAG repeats at subpathogenic lengths.
Project description:Mutant transcripts containing expanded CUG repeats in the untranslated region are a pathogenic factor in myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1). The mutant RNA sequesters the muscleblind-like 1 (MBNL1) splicing factor and causes misregulation of the alternative splicing of multiple genes that are linked to clinical symptoms of the disease. In this study, we show that either long untranslated CAG repeat RNA or short synthetic CAG repeats induce splicing aberrations typical of DM1. Alternative splicing defects are also caused by translated CAG repeats in normal cells transfected with a mutant ATXN3 gene construct and in cells derived from spinocerebellar ataxia type 3 and Huntington's disease patients. Splicing misregulation is unlikely to be caused by traces of antisense transcripts with CUG repeats, and the possible trigger of this misregulation may be sequestration of the MBNL1 protein with nuclear RNA inclusions containing expanded CAG repeat transcripts. We propose that alternative splicing misregulation by mutant CAG repeats may contribute to the pathological features of polyglutamine disorders.
Project description:The myotonic dystrophies (DM) are human diseases in which the accumulation of toxic RNA (CUG or CCUG) repeats in the cell causes sequestration of splicing factors, including MBNL1, leading to clinical symptoms such as muscle wasting and myotonia. We previously used Dynamic Combinatorial Chemistry to identify the first compounds known to inhibit (CUG)-MBNL1 binding in vitro. We now report transformation of those compounds into structures with activity in vivo. Introduction of a benzo[g]quinoline substructure previously unknown in the context of RNA recognition, as well as other modifications, provided several molecules with enhanced binding properties, including compounds with strong selectivity for CUG repeats over CAG repeats or CAG-CUG duplex RNA. Compounds readily penetrate cells, and improve luciferase activity in a mouse myoblast assay in which enzyme function is coupled to a release of nuclear CUG-RNA retention. Most importantly, two compounds are able to partially restore splicing in a mouse model of DM1.