Ligand-induced folding of the thiM TPP riboswitch investigated by a structure-based fluorescence spectroscopic approach

Nucleic Acids Research
Kathrin LangRonald Micura


Riboswitches are genetic control elements within non-coding regions of mRNA. They consist of a metabolite-sensitive aptamer and an adjoining expression platform. Here, we describe ligand-induced folding of a thiamine pyrophosphate (TPP) responsive riboswitch from Escherichia coli thiM mRNA, using chemically labeled variants. Referring to a recent structure determination of the TPP/aptamer complex, each variant was synthesized with a single 2-aminopurine (AP) nucleobase replacement that was selected to monitor formation of tertiary interactions of a particular region during ligand binding in real time by fluorescence experiments. We have determined the rate constants for conformational adjustment of the individual AP sensors. From the 7-fold differentiation of these constants, it can be deduced that tertiary contacts between the two parallel helical domains (P2/J3-2/P3/L3 and P4/P5/L5) that grip the ligand's ends in two separate pockets, form significantly faster than the function-critical three-way junction with stem P1 fully developed. Based on these data, we characterize the process of ligand binding by an induced fit of the RNA and propose a folding model of the TPP riboswitch aptamer. For the full-length riboswitch domain a...Continue Reading


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