Local Structural and Environmental Factors Define the Efficiency of an RNA Pseudoknot Involved in Programmed Ribosomal Frameshift Process
mediaposted on 16.10.2014, 00:00 by Asmita Gupta, Manju Bansal
In programmed −1 ribosomal frameshift, an RNA pseudoknot stalls the ribosome at specific sequence and restarts translation in a new reading frame. A precise understanding of structural characteristics of these pseudoknots and their PRF inducing ability has not been clear to date. To investigate this phenomenon, we have studied various structural aspects of a −1 PRF inducing RNA pseudoknot from BWYV using extensive molecular dynamics simulations. A set of functional and poorly functional forms, for which previous mutational data were available, were chosen for analysis. These structures differ from each other by either single base substitutions or base-pair replacements from the native structure. We have rationalized how certain mutations in RNA pseudoknot affect its function; e.g., a specific base substitution in loop 2 stabilizes the junction geometry by forming multiple noncanonical hydrogen bonds, leading to a highly rigid structure that could effectively resist ribosome-induced unfolding, thereby increasing efficiency. While, a CG to AU pair substitution in stem 1 leads to loss of noncanonical hydrogen bonds between stems and loop, resulting in a less stable structure and reduced PRF inducing ability, inversion of a pair in stem 2 alters specific base-pair geometry that might be required in ribosomal recognition of nucleobase groups, negatively affecting pseudoknot functioning. These observations illustrate that the ability of an RNA pseudoknot to induce −1 PRF with an optimal rate depends on several independent factors that contribute to either the local conformational variability or geometry.