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Intrinsic Base-Pair Rearrangement in the Hairpin Ribozyme Directs RNA Conformational Sampling and Tertiary Interface Formation

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posted on 2016-10-05, 00:00 authored by Patrick O. Ochieng, Neil A. White, Michael Feig, Charles G. Hoogstraten
Dynamic fluctuations in RNA structure enable conformational changes that are required for catalysis and recognition. In the hairpin ribozyme, the catalytically active structure is formed as an intricate tertiary interface between two RNA internal loops. Substantial alterations in the structure of each loop are observed upon interface formation, or docking. The very slow on-rate for this relatively tight interaction has led us to hypothesize a double conformational capture mechanism for RNA–RNA recognition. We used extensive molecular dynamics simulations to assess conformational sampling in the undocked form of the loop domain containing the scissile phosphate (loop A). We observed several major accessible conformations with distinctive patterns of hydrogen bonding and base stacking interactions in the active-site internal loop. Several important conformational features characteristic of the docked state were observed in well-populated substates, consistent with the kinetic sampling of docking-competent states by isolated loop A. Our observations suggest a hybrid or multistage binding mechanism, in which initial conformational selection of a docking-competent state is followed by induced-fit adjustment to an in-line, chemically reactive state only after formation of the initial complex with loop B.

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