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The Identity of the Nucleophile Substitution May Influence Metal Interactions with the Cleavage Site of the Minimal Hammerhead Ribozyme

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journal contribution
posted on 10.11.2009, 00:00 by Edith M. Osborne, W. Luke Ward, Max Z. Ruehle, Victoria J. DeRose
Potential metal interactions with the cleavage site of a minimal hammerhead ribozyme (mHHRz) were probed using 31P NMR-detected Cd2+ titration studies of HHRz constructs containing a phosphorothioate (PS) modification at the cleavage site. The mHHRz nucleophile position was replaced by either a 2′-F or a 2′-NH2 in order to block cleavage activity during the study. The 2′-F/PS cleavage site mHHRz construct, in which the 2′-F should closely imitate the atom size and electronegativity of a 2′-OH, demonstrates low levels of metal ion association (<1 ppm 31P chemical shift changes). This observation indicates that having an atom size and electrostatic properties that are similar to the 2′-OH are not the governing factors in allowing metal interactions with the scissile phosphate of the mHHRz. With a 2′-NH2 substitution, a large upfield change in 31P NMR chemical shift of the phosphorothioate peak (Δ ∼3 ppm with 6 equiv of added Cd2+) indicates observable Cd2+ interactions with the substituted site. Since a 2′-NH2, but not a 2′-F, can serve as a metal ligand, these data suggest that a metal ion interaction with the HHRz cleavage site may include both the scissile phosphate and the 2′ nucleophile. Control samples in which the 2′-NH2/PS unit is placed either next to the mHHRz cleavage site (at U16.1), in a duplex, or in a amUPSU dinucleotide show much weaker interactions with Cd2+. Results with these control samples indicate that simply the presence of a 2′-NH2/PS unit does not create a strong metal binding site, reinforcing the possibility that the 2′-NH2-moderated Cd−PS interaction is specific to the mHHRz cleavage site. Upfield chemical shifts of both 31P and H-2′ 1H resonances in amUPSU are observed with addition of Cd2+, consistent with the predicted metal coordination to both 2′-NH2 and phosphorothioate ligands. These data suggest that metal ion association with the HHRz cleavage site may include an interaction with the 2′-OH nucleophile.