A New Approach to 3D Modeling of Inhomogeneous Populations of Viral Regulatory RNA.
ABSTRACT: Tertiary structure (3D) is the physical context of RNA regulatory activity. Retroviruses are RNA viruses that replicate through the proviral DNA intermediate transcribed by hosts. Proviral transcripts form inhomogeneous populations due to variable structural ensembles of overlapping regulatory RNA motifs in the 5'-untranslated region (UTR), which drive RNAs to be spliced or translated, and/or dimerized and packaged into virions. Genetic studies and structural techniques have provided fundamental input constraints to begin predicting HIV 3D conformations in silico. Using SimRNA and sets of experimentally-determined input constraints of HIVNL4-3 trans-activation responsive sequence (TAR) and pairings of unique-5' (U5) with dimerization (DIS) or AUG motifs, we calculated a series of 3D models that differ in proximity of 5'-Cap and the junction of TAR and PolyA helices; configuration of primer binding site (PBS)-segment; and two host cofactors binding sites. Input constraints on U5-AUG pairings were most compatible with intramolecular folding of 5'-UTR motifs in energetic minima. Introducing theoretical constraints predicted metastable PolyA region drives orientation of 5'-Cap with TAR, U5 and PBS-segment helices. SimRNA and the workflow developed herein provides viable options to predict 3D conformations of inhomogeneous populations of large RNAs that have been intractable to conventional ensemble methods.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The genome of retroviruses, including HIV-1, is packaged as two homologous (+) strand RNA molecules, noncovalently associated close to their 5'-end in a region called dimer linkage structure (DLS). Retroviral HIV-1 genomic RNAs dimerize through complex interactions between dimerization initiation sites (DIS) within the (5'-UTR). Dimer formation is prevented by so calledLong Distance Interaction (LDI) conformation, whereas Branched Multiple Hairpin (BMH) conformation leads to spontaneous dimerization. METHODS AND RESULTS: We evaluated the role of SL1 (DIS), PolyA Hairpin signal and a long distance U5-AUG interaction by in-vitro dimerization, conformer assay and coupled dimerization and template-switching assays using antisense PNAs. Our data suggests evidence that PNAs targeted against SL1 produced severe inhibitory effect on dimerization and template-switching processes while PNAs targeted against U5 region do not show significant effect on dimerization and template switching, while PNAs targeted against AUG region showed strong inhibition of dimerization and template switching processes. CONCLUSIONS: Our results demonstrate that PNA can be used successfully as an antisense to inhibit dimerization and template switching process in HIV -1 and both of the processes are closely linked to each other. Different PNA oligomers have ability of switching between two thermodynamically stable forms. PNA targeted against DIS and SL1 switch, LDI conformer to more dimerization friendly BMH form. PNAs targeted against PolyA haipin configuration did not show a significant change in dimerization and template switching process. The PNA oligomer directed against the AUG strand of U5-AUG duplex structure also showed a significant reduction in RNA dimerization as well as template- switching efficiency.The antisense PNA oligomers can be used to regulate the shift in the LDI/BMH equilibrium.
Project description:RNA function in many biological processes depends on the formation of three-dimensional (3D) structures. However, RNA structure is difficult to determine experimentally, which has prompted the development of predictive computational methods. Here, we introduce a user-friendly online interface for modeling RNA 3D structures using SimRNA, a method that uses a coarse-grained representation of RNA molecules, utilizes the Monte Carlo method to sample the conformational space, and relies on a statistical potential to describe the interactions in the folding process. SimRNAweb makes SimRNA accessible to users who do not normally use high performance computational facilities or are unfamiliar with using the command line tools. The simplest input consists of an RNA sequence to fold RNA de novo. Alternatively, a user can provide a 3D structure in the PDB format, for instance a preliminary model built with some other technique, to jump-start the modeling close to the expected final outcome. The user can optionally provide secondary structure and distance restraints, and can freeze a part of the starting 3D structure. SimRNAweb can be used to model single RNA sequences and RNA-RNA complexes (up to 52 chains). The webserver is available at http://genesilico.pl/SimRNAweb.
Project description:The paradigm protein synthesis rate is regulated by structural complexity of the 5'untranslated region (UTR) derives from bacterial and other riboswitches. In-solution, HIV-1 5'UTR forms two interchangeable long-range nucleotide (nt) -pairings, one sequesters the gag start codon promoting dimerization while the other sequesters the dimer initiation signal preventing dimerization. While the effect of these nt-pairings on dimerization and packaging has been documented their effect on authentic HIV translation in cellulo has remained elusive until now. HIV<sup>NL4-3</sup> 5'UTR substitutions were designed to individually stabilize the dimer-prone or monomer-prone conformations, validated in-solution, and introduced to molecular clones. The effect of 5'UTR conformation on ribosome loading to HIV unspliced RNA and rate of Gag polypeptide synthesis was quantified in cellulo. Monomer- and dimer-prone 5'UTRs displayed equivalent, basal rate of translation. Gain-of-function substitution U103, in conjunction with previously defined nt-pairings that reorient AUG to flexible nt-pairing, significantly activated the translation rate, indicating the basal translation rate is under positive selection. The observed translation up-mutation focuses attention to nt-pairings at the junction of R and U5, a poorly characterized structure upstream of the characterized HIV riboswitch and demonstrates the basal translation rate of authentic HIV RNA is regulated independently of monomer:dimer equilibrium of the 5'UTR.
Project description:The most conserved region of the HIV type 1 (HIV-1) genome, the ?335-nt 5' UTR, is characterized by functional stem loop domains responsible for regulating the viral life cycle. Despite the indispensable nature of this region of the genome in HIV-1 replication, 3D structures of multihairpin domains of the 5' UTR remain unknown. Using small-angle X-ray scattering and molecular dynamics simulations, we generated structural models of the transactivation (TAR)/polyadenylation (polyA), primer-binding site (PBS), and Psi-packaging domains. TAR and polyA form extended, coaxially stacked hairpins, consistent with their high stability and contribution to the pausing of reverse transcription. The Psi domain is extended, with each stem loop exposed for interactions with binding partners. The PBS domain adopts a bent conformation resembling the shape of a tRNA in apo and primer-annealed states. These results provide a structural basis for understanding several key molecular mechanisms underlying HIV-1 replication.
Project description:RNA molecules play fundamental roles in cellular processes. Their function and interactions with other biomolecules are dependent on the ability to form complex three-dimensional (3D) structures. However, experimental determination of RNA 3D structures is laborious and challenging, and therefore, the majority of known RNAs remain structurally uncharacterized. Here, we present SimRNA: a new method for computational RNA 3D structure prediction, which uses a coarse-grained representation, relies on the Monte Carlo method for sampling the conformational space, and employs a statistical potential to approximate the energy and identify conformations that correspond to biologically relevant structures. SimRNA can fold RNA molecules using only sequence information, and, on established test sequences, it recapitulates secondary structure with high accuracy, including correct prediction of pseudoknots. For modeling of complex 3D structures, it can use additional restraints, derived from experimental or computational analyses, including information about secondary structure and/or long-range contacts. SimRNA also can be used to analyze conformational landscapes and identify potential alternative structures.
Project description:Interactions between nuclide acids (RNA/DNA) play important roles in many basic cellular activities like transcription regulation, RNA processing, and protein synthesis. Therefore, determining the complex structures between RNAs/DNAs is crucial to understand the molecular mechanism of related RNA/DNA-RNA/DNA interactions. Here, we have presented HNADOCK, a user-friendly web server for nucleic acid (NA)-nucleic acid docking to model the 3D complex structures between two RNAs/DNAs, where both sequence and structure inputs are accepted for RNAs, while only structure inputs are supported for DNAs. HNADOCK server was tested through both unbound structure and sequence inputs on the benchmark of 60 RNA-RNA complexes and compared with the state-of-the-art algorithm SimRNA. For structure input, HNADOCK server achieved a high success rate of 71.7% for top 10 predictions, compared to 58.3% for SimRNA. For sequence input, HNADOCK server also obtained a satisfactory performance and gave a success rate of 83.3% when the bound RNA templates are included or 53.3% when excluding those bound RNA templates. It was also found that inclusion of the inter-RNA base-pairing information from RNA-RNA interaction prediction can significantly improve the docking accuracy, especially for the top prediction. HNADOCK is fast and can normally finish a job in about 10 minutes. The HNADOCK web server is available at http://huanglab.phys.hust.edu.cn/hnadock/.
Project description:Retroviruses selectively package two copies of their unspliced genomes by what appears to be a dimerization-dependent RNA packaging mechanism. Dimerization of human immunodeficiency virus Type-1 (HIV-1) genomes is initiated by "kissing" interactions between GC-rich palindromic loop residues of a conserved hairpin (DIS), and is indirectly promoted by long-range base pairing between residues overlapping the gag start codon (AUG) and an upstream Unique 5' element (U5). The DIS and U5:AUG structures are phylogenetically conserved among divergent retroviruses, suggesting conserved functions. However, some studies suggest that the DIS of HIV-2 does not participate in dimerization, and that U5:AUG pairing inhibits, rather than promotes, genome dimerization. We prepared RNAs corresponding to native and mutant forms of the 5' leaders of HIV-1 (NL4-3 strain), HIV-2 (ROD strain), and two divergent strains of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV; cpz-TAN1 and -US strains), and probed for potential roles of the DIS and U5:AUG base pairing on intrinsic and NC-dependent dimerization by mutagenesis, gel electrophoresis, and NMR spectroscopy.Dimeric forms of the native HIV-2 and SIV leaders were only detectable using running buffers that contained Mg(2+), indicating that these dimers are more labile than that of the HIV-1 leader. Mutations designed to promote U5:AUG base pairing promoted dimerization of the HIV-2 and SIV RNAs, whereas mutations that prevented U5:AUG pairing inhibited dimerization. Chimeric HIV-2 and SIV leader RNAs containing the dimer-promoting loop of HIV-1 (DIS) exhibited HIV-1 leader-like dimerization properties, whereas an HIV-1NL4-3 mutant containing the SIVcpzTAN1 DIS loop behaved like the SIVcpzTAN1 leader. The cognate NC proteins exhibited varying abilities to promote dimerization of the retroviral leader RNAs, but none were able to convert labile dimers to non-labile dimers.The finding that U5:AUG formation promotes dimerization of the full-length HIV-1, HIV-2, SIVcpzUS, and SIVcpzTAN1 5' leaders suggests that these retroviruses utilize a common RNA structural switch mechanism to modulate function. Differences in native and NC-dependent dimerization propensity and lability are due to variations in the compositions of the DIS loop residues rather than other sequences within the leader RNAs. Although NC is a well-known RNA chaperone, its role in dimerization has the hallmarks of a classical riboswitch.
Project description:Latently-infected CD4+ T cells are widely considered to be the major barrier to a cure for HIV. Much of our understanding of HIV latency comes from latency models and blood cells, but most HIV-infected cells reside in lymphoid tissues such as the gut. We hypothesized that tissue-specific environments may impact the mechanisms that govern HIV expression. To assess the degree to which different mechanisms inhibit HIV transcription in the gut and blood, we quantified HIV transcripts suggestive of transcriptional interference (U3-U5; "Read-through"), initiation (TAR), 5' elongation (R-U5-pre-Gag; "Long LTR"), distal transcription (Nef), completion (U3-polyA; "PolyA"), and multiple splicing (Tat-Rev) in matched peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and rectal biopsies, and matched FACS-sorted CD4+ T cells from blood and rectum, from two cohorts of ART-suppressed individuals. Like the PBMCs, rectal biopsies showed low levels of read-through transcripts (median = 23 copies/106 cells) and a gradient of total (679)>elongated(75)>Nef(16)>polyadenylated (11)>multiply-spliced HIV RNAs(<1) [p<0.05 for all], demonstrating blocks to HIV transcriptional elongation, completion, and splicing. Rectal CD4+ T cells showed a similar gradient of total>polyadenylated>multiply-spliced transcripts, but the ratio of total to elongated transcripts was 6-fold lower than in blood CD4+ T cells (P = 0.016), suggesting less of a block to HIV transcriptional elongation in rectal CD4+ T cells. Levels of total transcripts per provirus were significantly lower in rectal biopsies compared to PBMCs (median 3.5 vs. 15.4; P = 0.008) and in sorted CD4+ T cells from rectum compared to blood (median 2.7 vs. 31.8; P = 0.016). The lower levels of HIV transcriptional initiation and of most HIV transcripts per provirus in the rectum suggest that this site may be enriched for latently-infected cells, cells in which latency is maintained by different mechanisms, or cells in a "deeper" state of latency. These are important considerations for designing therapies that aim to disrupt HIV latency in all tissue compartments.
Project description:Recent studies have shown that simple stereochemical constraints encoded at the RNA secondary structure level significantly restrict the orientation of RNA helices across two-way junctions and yield physically reasonable distributions of RNA 3D conformations. Here we develop a new coarse-grain model, TOPRNA, that is optimized for exploring detailed aspects of these topological constraints in complex RNA systems. Unlike prior models, TOPRNA effectively treats RNAs as collections of semirigid helices linked by freely rotatable single strands, allowing us to isolate the effects of secondary structure connectivity and sterics on 3D structure. Simulations of bulge junctions show that TOPRNA captures new aspects of topological constraints, including variations arising from deviations in local A-form structure, translational displacements of the helices, and stereochemical constraints imposed by bulge-linker nucleotides. Notably, these aspects of topological constraints define free energy landscapes that coincide with the distribution of bulge conformations in the PDB. Our simulations also quantitatively reproduce NMR RDC measurements made on HIV-1 TAR at low salt concentrations, although not for different TAR mutants or at high salt concentrations. Our results confirm that topological constraints are an important determinant of bulge conformation and dynamics and demonstrate the utility of TOPRNA for studying the topological constraints of complex RNAs.
Project description:The 5'-untranslated region (5'-UTR) of the human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) genome regulates multiple RNA-dependent functions during viral replication and has been proposed to adopt multiple secondary structures. Recent phylogenetic studies identified base pair complementarity between residues of the unique 5' element and those near the gag start codon (gag(AUG)) that is conserved among evolutionarily distant retroviruses, suggesting a potential long-range RNA-RNA interaction. However, nucleotide accessibility studies led to conflicting conclusions about the presence of such interactions in virions and in infected cells. Here, we show that an 11-nucleotide oligo-RNA spanning residues 105-115 of the 5'-UTR (U5) readily binds to oligoribonucleotides containing the gag start codon (AUG), disrupting a pre-existing stem loop and forming a heteroduplex stabilized by 11 Watson-Crick base pairs (K(d) = 0.47 +/- 0.16 microM). Addition of the HIV-1 nucleocapsid protein (NC), the trans-acting viral factor required for genome packaging, disrupts the heteroduplex by binding tightly to U5 (K(d) = 122 +/- 10 nM). The structure of the NC:U5 complex, determined by NMR, exhibits features similar to those observed in NC complexes with HIV-1 stem loop RNAs, including the insertion of guanosine nucleobases to hydrophobic clefts on the surface of the zinc fingers and a 3'-to-5' orientation of the RNA relative to protein. Our findings indicate that the previously proposed long-range U5-gag(AUG) interaction is feasible and suggest a potential NC-dependent mechanism for modulating the structure of the 5'-UTR.