Deciphering the rules of mRNA structure differentiation in Saccharomyces cerevisiae in vivo and in vitro with deep neural networks.
ABSTRACT: The structure of mRNA in vivo is unwound to some extent in response to multiple factors involved in the translation process, resulting in significant differences from the structure of the same mRNA in vitro. In this study, we have proposed a novel application of deep neural networks, named DeepDRU, to predict the degree of mRNA structure unwinding in vivo by fitting five quantifiable features that may affect mRNA folding: ribosome density (RD), minimum folding free energy (MFE), GC content, translation initiation ribosome density (INI) and mRNA structure position (POS). mRNA structures with adjustment of the simulated structural features were designed and then fed into the trained DeepDRU model. We found unique effect regions of these five features on mRNA structure in vivo. Strikingly, INI is the most critical factor affecting the structure of mRNA in vivo, and structural sequence features, including MFE and GC content, have relatively smaller effects. DeepDRU provides a new paradigm for predicting the unwinding capability of mRNA structure in vivo. This improved knowledge about the mechanisms of factors influencing the structural capability of mRNA to unwind will facilitate the design and functional analysis of mRNA structure in vivo.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The objective of this work was to investigate the hypothesis that eukaryotic Internal Ribosome Entry Sites (IRES) lack secondary structure and to examine the generality of the hypothesis. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: IRESs of the yeast and the fruit fly are located in the 5'UTR immediately upstream of the initiation codon. The minimum folding energy (MFE) of 60 nt RNA segments immediately upstream of the initiation codons was calculated as a proxy of secondary structure stability. MFE of the reverse complements of these 60 nt segments was also calculated. The relationship between MFE and empirically determined IRES activity was investigated to test the hypothesis that strong IRES activity is associated with weak secondary structure. We show that IRES activity in the yeast and the fruit fly correlates strongly with the structural stability, with highest IRES activity found in RNA segments that exhibit the weakest secondary structure. CONCLUSIONS: We found that a subset of eukaryotic IRESs exhibits very low secondary structure in the 5'-UTR sequences immediately upstream of the initiation codon. The consistency in results between the yeast and the fruit fly suggests a possible shared mechanism of cap-independent translation initiation that relies on an unstructured RNA segment.
Project description:The sequence and secondary structure of the 5'-end of mRNAs regulate translation by controlling ribosome initiation on the mRNA. Ribosomal protein S1 is crucial for ribosome initiation on many natural mRNAs, particularly for those with structured 5'-ends, or with no or weak Shine-Dalgarno sequences. Besides a critical role in translation, S1 has been implicated in several other cellular processes, such as transcription recycling, and the rescuing of stalled ribosomes by tmRNA. The mechanisms of S1 functions are still elusive but have been widely considered to be linked to the affinity of S1 for single-stranded RNA and its corresponding destabilization of mRNA secondary structures. Here, using optical tweezers techniques, we demonstrate that S1 promotes RNA unwinding by binding to the single-stranded RNA formed transiently during the thermal breathing of the RNA base pairs and that S1 dissociation results in RNA rezipping. We measured the dependence of the RNA unwinding and rezipping rates on S1 concentration, and the force applied to the ends of the RNA. We found that each S1 binds 10 nucleotides of RNA in a multistep fashion implying that S1 can facilitate ribosome initiation on structured mRNA by first binding to the single strand next to an RNA duplex structure ("stand-by site") before subsequent binding leads to RNA unwinding. Unwinding by multiple small substeps is much less rate limited by thermal breathing than unwinding in a single step. Thus, a multistep scheme greatly expedites S1 unwinding of an RNA structure compared to a single-step mode.
Project description:Mitochondrial transcript maturation in African trypanosomes requires RNA editing to convert sequence-deficient pre-mRNAs into translatable mRNAs. The different pre-mRNAs have been shown to adopt highly stable 2D folds; however, it is not known whether these structures resemble the in vivo folds given the extreme "crowding" conditions within the mitochondrion. Here, we analyze the effects of macromolecular crowding on the structure of the mitochondrial RPS12 pre-mRNA. We use high molecular mass polyethylene glycol as a macromolecular cosolute and monitor the structure of the RNA globally and with nucleotide resolution. We demonstrate that crowding has no impact on the 2D fold and we conclude that the MFE structure in dilute solvent conditions represents a good proxy for the folding of the pre-mRNA in its mitochondrial solvent context.
Project description:Protein synthesis in all organisms proceeds by stepwise translocation of the ribosome along messenger RNAs (mRNAs), during which the helicase activity of the ribosome unwinds encountered structures in the mRNA. This activity is known to occur near the mRNA tunnel entrance, which is lined by ribosomal proteins uS3, uS4, and uS5. However, the mechanism(s) of mRNA unwinding by the ribosome and the possible role of these proteins in the helicase activity are not well understood. Here, we present a crystal structure of the Escherichia coli ribosome in which single-stranded mRNA is observed beyond the tunnel entrance, interacting in an extended conformation with a positively charged patch on ribosomal protein uS3 immediately outside the entrance. This apparent binding specificity for single-stranded mRNA ahead of the tunnel entrance suggests that product stabilization may play a role in the unwinding of structured mRNA by the ribosomal helicase.
Project description:RNAbor provides a new tool for researchers in the biological and related sciences to explore important aspects of RNA secondary structure and folding pathways. RNAbor computes statistics concerning delta-neighbors of a given input RNA sequence and structure (the structure can, for example, be the minimum free energy (MFE) structure). A delta-neighbor is a structure that differs from the input structure by exactly delta base pairs, that is, it can be obtained from the input structure by adding and/or removing exactly delta base pairs. For each distance delta RNAbor computes the density of delta-neighbors, the number of delta-neighbors, and the MFE structure, or MFE (delta) structure, among all delta-neighbors. RNAbor can be used to study possible folding pathways, to determine alternate low-energy structures, to predict potential nucleation sites and to explore structural neighbors of an intermediate, biologically active structure. The web server is available at http://bioinformatics.bc.edu/clotelab/RNAbor.
Project description:A large number of bacteria have been found to govern virulence and heat shock responses using temperature-sensing RNAs known as RNA thermometers. A prime example is the agsA thermometer known to regulate the production of the AgsA heat shock protein in Salmonella enterica using a "fourU" structural motif. Using the SHAPE-Seq RNA structure-probing method in vivo and in vitro, we found that the regulator functions by a subtle shift in equilibrium RNA structure populations that leads to a partial melting of the helix containing the ribosome binding site. We also demonstrate that binding of the ribosome to the agsA mRNA causes changes to the thermometer structure that appear to facilitate thermometer helix unwinding. These results demonstrate how subtle RNA structural changes can govern gene expression and illuminate the function of an important bacterial regulatory motif.
Project description:During protein synthesis, the messenger RNA (mRNA) helicase activity of the ribosome ensures that codons are made single stranded before decoding. Here, based on recent structural and functional findings, a quantitative model is presented for a tandem arrangement of two helicase active sites on the ribosome. A distal site encounters mRNA structures first, one elongation cycle earlier than a proximal site. Although unwinding of encountered mRNA structures past the proximal site is required for translocation, two routes exist for translocation past the distal site: sliding, which requires unwinding, and stick-slip, which does not. The model accounts in detail for a number of findings related to the ribosomal helicase and provides a testable framework to further study mRNA unwinding.
Project description:Mutational analysis is commonly used to support the diagnosis and management of haemophilia. This has allowed for the generation of large mutation databases which provide unparalleled insight into genotype-phenotype relationships. Haemophilia is associated with inversions, deletions, insertions, nonsense and missense mutations. Both synonymous and non-synonymous mutations influence the base pairing of messenger RNA (mRNA), which can alter mRNA structure, cellular half-life and ribosome processivity/elongation. However, the role of mRNA structure in determining the pathogenicity of point mutations in haemophilia has not been evaluated.To evaluate mRNA thermodynamic stability and associated RNA prediction software as a means to distinguish between neutral and disease-associated mutations in haemophilia.Five mRNA structure prediction software programs were used to assess the thermodynamic stability of mRNA fragments carrying neutral vs. disease-associated and synonymous vs. non-synonymous point mutations in F8, F9 and a third X-linked gene, DMD (dystrophin).In F8 and DMD, disease-associated mutations tend to occur in more structurally stable mRNA regions, represented by lower MFE (minimum free energy) levels. In comparing multiple software packages for mRNA structure prediction, a 101-151 nucleotide fragment length appears to be a feasible range for structuring future studies.mRNA thermodynamic stability is one predictive characteristic, which when combined with other RNA and protein features, may offer significant insight when screening sequencing data for novel disease-associated mutations. Our results also suggest potential utility in evaluating the mRNA thermodynamic stability profile of a gene when determining the viability of interchanging codons for biological and therapeutic applications.
Project description:Downstream stable mRNA secondary structures can stall elongating ribosomes by impeding the concerted movements of tRNAs and mRNA on the ribosome during translocation. The addition of a downstream mRNA structure, such as a stem-loop or a pseudoknot, is essential to induce -1 programmed ribosomal frameshifting (-1 PRF). Interestingly, previous studies revealed that -1 PRF efficiencies correlate with conformational plasticity of pseudoknots, defined as their propensity to form incompletely folded structures, rather than with the mechanical properties of pseudoknots. To elucidate the detailed molecular mechanisms of translocation and -1 PRF, we applied several smFRET assays to systematically examine how translocation rates and conformational dynamics of ribosomes were affected by different pseudoknots. Our results show that initial pseudoknot-unwinding significantly inhibits late-stage translocation and modulates conformational dynamics of ribosomal post-translocation complexes. The effects of pseudoknots on the structural dynamics of ribosomes strongly correlate with their abilities to induce -1 PRF. Our results lead us to propose a kinetic scheme for translocation which includes an initial power-stroke step and a following thermal-ratcheting step. This scheme provides mechanistic insights on how selective modulation of late-stage translocation by pseudoknots affects -1 PRF. Overall our findings advance current understanding of translocation and ribosome-induced mRNA structure unwinding.
Project description:During translation, intracellular mRNA folds co-transcriptionally and must refold following the passage of ribosome. The mRNAs can be entrapped in metastable structures during these folding events. In the present study, we evaluated the conformational dynamics of the kinetically favored, metastable, and hairpin-like structure, which disturbs the thermodynamically favored G-quadruplex structure, and its effect on co-transcriptional translation in prokaryotic cells. We found that nascent mRNA forms a metastable hairpin-like structure during co-transcriptional folding instead of the G-quadruplex structure. When the translation progressed co-transcriptionally before the metastable hairpin-like structure transition to the G-quadruplex, function of the G-quadruplex as a roadblock of the ribosome was sequestered. This suggested that kinetically formed RNA structures had a dominant effect on gene expression in prokaryotes. The results of this study indicate that it is critical to consider the conformational dynamics of RNA-folding to understand the contributions of the mRNA structures in controlling gene expression.