Variants of the guanine riboswitch class exhibit altered ligand specificities for xanthine, guanine, or 2'-deoxyguanosine.
ABSTRACT: The aptamer portions of previously reported riboswitch classes that sense guanine, adenine, or 2′-deoxyguanosine are formed by a highly similar three-stem junction with distinct nucleotide sequences in the regions joining the stems. The nucleotides in these joining regions form the major features of the selective ligand-binding pocket for each aptamer. Previously, we reported the existence of additional, rare variants of the predominant guanine-sensing riboswitch class that carry nucleotide differences in the ligand-binding pocket, suggesting that these RNAs have further diversified their structures and functions. Herein, we report the discovery and analysis of three naturally occurring variants of guanine riboswitches that are narrowly distributed across Firmicutes. These RNAs were identified using comparative sequence analysis methods, which also revealed that some of the gene associations for these variants are atypical for guanine riboswitches or their previously known natural variants. Binding assays demonstrate that the newfound variant riboswitch representatives recognize xanthine, guanine, or 2′-deoxyguanosine, with the guanine class exhibiting greater discrimination against related purines than the more common guanine riboswitch class reported previously. These three additional variant classes, together with the four previously discovered riboswitch classes that employ the same three-stem junction architecture, reveal how a simple structural framework can be diversified to expand the range of purine-based ligands sensed by RNA.
Project description:A recent bioinformatic analysis of well-characterized classes of riboswitches uncovered subgroups unable to bind to the regulatory molecule of the parental class. Within the guanine/adenine class, seven groups of RNAs were identified that deviate from the consensus sequence at one or more of three positions directly involved purine nucleobase recognition, one of which was validated as a second class of 2'-deoxyguanosine riboswitch (called 2'-dG-II). To understand how 2'-dG-II riboswitches recognize their cognate ligand and how they differ from a previously identified class of 2'-deoxyguanosine binding riboswitches, we have solved the crystal structure of a 2'-dG-II aptamer domain bound to 2'-deoxyguanosine. This structure reveals a global architecture similar to other members of the purine riboswitch family, but contains key differences within the ligand binding core. Defining the 2'-dG-II riboswitches is a two-nucleotide insertion in the three-way junction that promotes novel base-base interactions. Unlike 2'-dG-I riboswitches, the 2'-dG-II class only requires local changes to the ligand binding pocket of the guanine/adenine class to achieve a change in ligand preference. Notably, members of the 2'-dG-II family have variable ability to discriminate between 2'-deoxyguanosine and riboguanosine, suggesting that a subset of 2'-dG-II riboswitches may bind either molecule to regulate gene expression.
Project description:Riboswitches are noncoding RNA elements that are commonly found in the 5'-untranslated region of bacterial mRNA. Binding of a small-molecule metabolite to the riboswitch aptamer domain guides the folding of the downstream sequence into one of two mutually exclusive secondary structures that directs gene expression. The purine riboswitch family, which regulates aspects of purine biosynthesis and transport, contains three distinct classes that specifically recognize guanine/hypoxanthine, adenine, or 2'-deoxyguanosine (dG). Structural analysis of the guanine and adenine classes revealed a binding pocket that almost completely buries the nucleobase within the core of the folded RNA. Thus, it is somewhat surprising that this family of RNA elements also recognizes dG. We have used a combination of structural and biochemical techniques to understand how the guanine riboswitch could be converted into a dG binder and the structural basis for dG recognition. These studies reveal that a limited number of sequence changes to a guanine-sensing RNA are required to cause a specificity switch from guanine to 2'-deoxyguanosine, and to impart an altered structure for accommodating the additional deoxyribose sugar moiety.
Project description:Purine riboswitches are RNA regulatory elements that control purine metabolism in response to intracellular concentrations of the purine ligands. Conformational changes of the guanine riboswitch aptamer domain induced by guanine binding lead to transcriptional regulation of genes involved in guanine biosynthesis. The guanine riboswitch aptamer domain has three RNA helices designated P1, P2, and P3. An overall model for the Mg(2+)- and guanine-dependent relative orientations and dynamics of P1, P2, and P3 has not been reported, and the conformational role of guanine under physiologically relevant conditions has not been fully elucidated. In this study, an ensemble and single-molecule fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) study was performed on three orthogonally labeled variants of the xpt guanine riboswitch aptamer domain. The combined FRET data support a model in which the unfolded state of the aptamer domain has a highly dynamic P2 helix that switches rapidly between two orientations relative to nondynamic P1 and P3. At <<1 mM Mg(2+) (in the presence of a saturating level of guanine) or >or=1 mM Mg(2+) (in the absence of guanine), the riboswitch starts to adopt a folded conformation in which loop-loop interactions lock P2 and P3 into place. At >5 mM Mg(2+), further compaction occurs in which P1 more closely approaches P3. Our data help to explain the biological role of guanine as stabilizing the globally folded aptamer domain conformation at physiologically relevant Mg(2+) concentrations (<or=1 mM), whereas in the absence of guanine, much higher Mg(2+) concentrations are required to induce this folding event.
Project description:Riboswitches are RNAs that form complex, folded structures that selectively bind small molecules or ions. As with certain groups of protein enzymes and receptors, some riboswitch classes have evolved to change their ligand specificity. We developed a procedure to systematically analyze known riboswitch classes to find additional variants that have altered their ligand specificity. This approach uses multiple-sequence alignments, atomic-resolution structural information, and riboswitch gene associations. Among the discoveries are unique variants of the guanine riboswitch class that most tightly bind the nucleoside 2'-deoxyguanosine. In addition, we identified variants of the glycine riboswitch class that no longer recognize this amino acid, additional members of a rare flavin mononucleotide (FMN) variant class, and also variants of c-di-GMP-I and -II riboswitches that might recognize different bacterial signaling molecules. These findings further reveal the diverse molecular sensing capabilities of RNA, which highlights the potential for discovering a large number of additional natural riboswitch classes.
Project description:Metabolite-sensing mRNAs, or "riboswitches," specifically interact with small ligands and direct expression of the genes involved in their metabolism. Riboswitches contain sensing "aptamer" modules, capable of ligand-induced structural changes, and downstream regions, harboring expression-controlling elements. We report the crystal structures of the add A-riboswitch and xpt G-riboswitch aptamer modules that distinguish between bound adenine and guanine with exquisite specificity and modulate expression of two different sets of genes. The riboswitches form tuning fork-like architectures, in which the prongs are held in parallel through hairpin loop interactions, and the internal bubble zippers up to form the purine binding pocket. The bound purines are held by hydrogen bonding interactions involving conserved nucleotides along their entire periphery. Recognition specificity is associated with Watson-Crick pairing of the encapsulated adenine and guanine ligands with uridine and cytosine, respectively.
Project description:The mfl-riboswitch regulates expression of ribonucleotide reductase subunit in Mesoplasma florum by binding to 2'-deoxyguanosine and thereby promoting transcription termination. We characterized the structure of the ligand-bound aptamer domain by NMR spectroscopy and compared the mfl-aptamer to the aptamer domain of the closely related purine-sensing riboswitches. We show that the mfl-aptamer accommodates the extra 2'-deoxyribose unit of the ligand by forming a more relaxed binding pocket than these found in the purine-sensing riboswitches. Tertiary structures of the xpt-aptamer bound to guanine and of the mfl-aptamer bound to 2'-deoxyguanosine exhibit very similar features, although the sequence of the mfl-aptamer contains several alterations compared to the purine-aptamer consensus sequence. These alterations include the truncation of a hairpin loop which is crucial for complex formation in all purine-sensing riboswitches characterized to date. We further defined structural features and ligand binding requirements of the free mfl-aptamer and found that the presence of Mg(2+) is not essential for complex formation, but facilitates ligand binding by promoting pre-organization of key structural motifs in the free aptamer.
Project description:Riboswitches are noncoding RNA structures that appropriately regulate genes in response to changing cellular conditions. The expression of many proteins involved in fundamental metabolic processes is controlled by riboswitches that sense relevant small molecule ligands. Metabolite-binding riboswitches that recognize adenosylcobalamin (AdoCbl), thiamin pyrophosphate (TPP), lysine, glycine, flavin mononucleotide (FMN), guanine, adenine, glucosamine-6-phosphate (GlcN6P), 7-aminoethyl 7-deazaguanine (preQ1), and S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) have been reported.We have used covariance model searches to identify examples of ten widespread riboswitch classes in the genomes of organisms from all three domains of life. This data set rigorously defines the phylogenetic distributions of these riboswitch classes and reveals how their gene control mechanisms vary across different microbial groups. By examining the expanded aptamer sequence alignments resulting from these searches, we have also re-evaluated and refined their consensus secondary structures. Updated riboswitch structure models highlight additional RNA structure motifs, including an unusual double T-loop arrangement common to AdoCbl and FMN riboswitch aptamers, and incorporate new, sometimes noncanonical, base-base interactions predicted by a mutual information analysis.Riboswitches are vital components of many genomes. The additional riboswitch variants and updated aptamer structure models reported here will improve future efforts to annotate these widespread regulatory RNAs in genomic sequences and inform ongoing structural biology efforts. There remain significant questions about what physiological and evolutionary forces influence the distributions and mechanisms of riboswitches and about what forms of regulation substitute for riboswitches that appear to be missing in certain lineages.
Project description:Riboswitches are highly structured RNA elements that control the expression of many bacterial genes by binding directly to small metabolite molecules with high specificity and affinity. In Bacillus subtilis, two classes of riboswitches have been described that discriminate between guanine and adenine despite an extremely high degree of homology both in their primary and secondary structure. We have identified intermolecular base triples between both purine ligands and their respective riboswitch RNAs by NMR spectroscopy. Here, specificity is mediated by the formation of a Watson-Crick base pair between the guanine ligand and a C residue or the adenine ligand and a U residue of the cognate riboswitch RNA, respectively. In addition, a second base-pairing interaction common to both riboswitch purine complexes involves a uridine residue of the RNA and the N3/N9 edge of the purine ligands. This base pairing is mediated by a previously undescribed hydrogen-bonding scheme that contributes to the affinity of the RNA-ligand interaction. The observed intermolecular hydrogen bonds between the purine ligands and the RNA rationalize the previously observed change in specificity upon a C to U mutation in the core of the purine riboswitch RNAs and the differences in the binding affinities for a number of purine analogs.
Project description:Riboswitches are regulatory elements modulating gene expression in response to specific metabolite binding. It has been recently reported that riboswitch agonists may exhibit antimicrobial properties by binding to the riboswitch domain. Guanine riboswitches are involved in the regulation of transport and biosynthesis of purine metabolites, which are critical for the nucleotides cellular pool. Upon guanine binding, these riboswitches stabilize a 5'-untranslated mRNA structure that causes transcription attenuation of the downstream open reading frame. In principle, any agonistic compound targeting a guanine riboswitch could cause gene repression even when the cell is starved for guanine. Antibiotics binding to riboswitches provide novel antimicrobial compounds that can be rationally designed from riboswitch crystal structures. Using this, we have identified a pyrimidine compound (PC1) binding guanine riboswitches that shows bactericidal activity against a subgroup of bacterial species including well-known nosocomial pathogens. This selective bacterial killing is only achieved when guaA, a gene coding for a GMP synthetase, is under the control of the riboswitch. Among the bacterial strains tested, several clinical strains exhibiting multiple drug resistance were inhibited suggesting that PC1 targets a different metabolic pathway. As a proof of principle, we have used a mouse model to show a direct correlation between the administration of PC1 and the reduction of Staphylococcus aureus infection in mammary glands. This work establishes the possibility of using existing structural knowledge to design novel guanine riboswitch-targeting antibiotics as powerful and selective antimicrobial compounds. Particularly, the finding of this new guanine riboswitch target is crucial as community-acquired bacterial infections have recently started to emerge.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Riboswitches are a type of noncoding RNA that regulate gene expression by switching from one structural conformation to another on ligand binding. The various classes of riboswitches discovered so far are differentiated by the ligand, which on binding induces a conformational switch. Every class of riboswitch is characterized by an aptamer domain, which provides the site for ligand binding, and an expression platform that undergoes conformational change on ligand binding. The sequence and structure of the aptamer domain is highly conserved in riboswitches belonging to the same class. We propose a method for fast and accurate identification of riboswitches using profile Hidden Markov Models (pHMM). Our method exploits the high degree of sequence conservation that characterizes the aptamer domain. RESULTS: Our method can detect riboswitches in genomic databases rapidly and accurately. Its sensitivity is comparable to the method based on the Covariance Model (CM). For six out of ten riboswitch classes, our method detects more than 99.5% of the candidates identified by the much slower CM method while being several hundred times faster. For three riboswitch classes, our method detects 97-99% of the candidates relative to the CM method. Our method works very well for those classes of riboswitches that are characterized by distinct and conserved sequence motifs. CONCLUSION: Riboswitches play a crucial role in controlling the expression of several prokaryotic genes involved in metabolism and transport processes. As more and more new classes of riboswitches are being discovered, it is important to understand the patterns of their intra and inter genomic distribution. Understanding such patterns will enable us to better understand the evolutionary history of these genetic regulatory elements. However, a complete picture of the distribution pattern of riboswitches will emerge only after accurate identification of riboswitches across genomes. We believe that the riboswitch detection method developed in this paper will aid in that process. The significant advantage in terms of speed, of our pHMM-based approach over the method based on CM allows us to scan entire databases (rather than 5'UTRs only) in a relatively short period of time in order to accurately identify riboswitch candidates.