Structural Basis of Ligand Discrimination by Two Related RNA Aptamers Resolved by NMR Spectroscopy

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Science  31 May 1996:
Vol. 272, Issue 5266, pp. 1343-1347
DOI: 10.1126/science.272.5266.1343


In a previous study, an RNA aptamer for the specific recognition of arginine was evolved from a parent sequence that bound citrulline specifically. The two RNAs differ at only 3 positions out of 44. The solution structures of the two aptamers complexed to their cognate amino acids have now been determined by two-dimensional nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Both aptamers contain two asymmetrical internal loops that are not well ordered in the free RNA but that fold into a compact structure upon ligand binding. Those nucleotides common to both RNAs include a conserved cluster of purine residues, three of which form an uneven plane containing a G:G pair, and two other residues nearly perpendicular to that surface. Two of the three variant nucleotides are stacked on the cluster of purines and form a triple contact to the amino acid side chain, whereas the edge of the third variant nucleotide is capping the binding pocket.

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