Albany 2015:Book of Abstracts

Albany 2015
Conversation 19
June 9-13 2015
©Adenine Press (2012)

Structural polymorphism of CAG RNA repeats investigated by single-molecule mechanical unfolding

Structural polymorphism is an intrinsic characteristic of RNA, especially RNA containing repeated sequences. Transcripts including massively expanded trinucleotide repeats are implicated in many human diseases due to their cellular toxicity. Here we used optical tweezers to unfold RNAs with CAG repeats one molecule at a time. Unfolding trajectories of the RNAs indicated rapid transitions between numerous intermediates with distinctive end-to-end distances, suggesting a flat but rugged folding energy landscape with many shallow local minima. Individual RNAs were nanomanipulated into intermediate structures and their conformational dynamics among local energy minima was monitored in real time. This experimental approach will enable study of other simple sequence repeats, which account for 3% of the human genome.

William Stephenson1
Botros Toro2
Pan T.X. Li1, 2

1College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering SUNY Polytechnic Institute
257 Fuller Rd.
Albany, NY 12203

2The RNA Institute
3Depatment of Biological Sciences
University at Albany
Albany, NY 12222