Document Type

Article

Publication Date

9-28-2018

Publication Title

Nucleic acids research

ISSN

1362-4962

Volume

46

Issue

17

First Page

9094

Last Page

9105

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1093/nar/gky539

PubMed ID

29945209

Abstract

Riboswitches are structured mRNA sequences that regulate gene expression by directly binding intracellular metabolites. Generating the appropriate regulatory response requires the RNA rapidly and stably acquire higher-order structure to form the binding pocket, bind the appropriate effector molecule and undergo a structural transition to inform the expression machinery. These requirements place riboswitches under strong kinetic constraints, likely restricting the sequence space accessible by recurrent structural modules such as the kink turn and the T-loop. Class-II cobalamin riboswitches contain two T-loop modules: one directing global folding of the RNA and another buttressing the ligand binding pocket. While the T-loop module directing folding is highly conserved, the T-loop associated with binding is substantially less so, with no clear consensus sequence. To further understand the functional role of the binding-associated module, a functional genetic screen of a library of riboswitches with the T-loop and its interacting nucleotides was used to build an experimental phylogeny comprised of sequences that possess a wide range of cobalamin-dependent regulatory activity. Our results reveal conservation patterns of the T-loop and its interaction with the binding core that allow for rapid tertiary structure formation and demonstrate its importance for generating strong ligand-dependent repression of mRNA expression.

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