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Kinetics of RNA Refolding in Dynamic Equilibrium by 1H-Detected 15N Exchange NMR Spectroscopy

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journal contribution
posted on 14.06.2006, 00:00 by Philipp Wenter, Geoffrey Bodenhausen, Jens Dittmer, Stefan Pitsch
By implementing new NMR methods that were designed to map very slow exchange processes we have investigated and characterized the refolding kinetics of a thermodynamically stable 34mer RNA sequence in dynamic equilibrium. The RNA sequence was designed to undergo a topologically favored conformational exchange between different hairpin folds, serving as a model to estimate the minimal time required for more complex RNA folding processes. Chemically prepared RNA sequences with sequence-selective 15N labels provided the required signal separation and allowed a straightforward signal assignment of the imino protons by HNN correlation experiments. The 2D version of the new 1H-detected 15N exchange spectroscopy (EXSY) pulse sequence provided cross-peaks for resonances belonging to different folds that interchange on the time scale of longitudinal relaxation of 15N nuclei bound to imino protons. The 34mer RNA sequence exhibits two folds which exchange on the observable time scale (τobsT1{15Ν} < 5 s) and a third fold which is static on this time scale. A 1D version of the 15N exchange experiment allowed the measurement of the exchange rates between the two exchanging folds as a function of temperature and the determination of the corresponding activation energies Ea and frequency factors A. We found that the refolding rates are strongly affected by an entropically favorable preorientation of the replacing strand. The activation energies are comparable to values obtained for the slow refolding of RNA sequences of similar thermodynamic stability but less favorable topology.