Albany 2013: Book of Abstracts

category image Albany 2013
Conversation 18
June 11-15 2013
©Adenine Press (2012)

The Study of tRNA Modifications by Molecular Dynamics

Modified nucleosides are prevalent in tRNA. Experimental studies reveal that modifications play an important role in tuning tRNA activity. In this study, molecular dynamics (MD) simulations were used to investigate how modifications alter tRNA structure and dynamics. The X-ray crystal structures of tRNA-Asp, tRNA-Phe, and tRNA-iMet, both with and without modifications, were used as initial structures for 333 ns time scale MD trajectories with AMBER. For each tRNA molecule, three independent trajectory calculations were performed. Force field parameters were built using the RESP procedure of Cieplak et al. for 17 nonstandard tRNA residues. The global root mean square deviations (RMSDs) of atomic positions show that modifications only introduce significant rigidity to tRNA-Phe’s global structure. Interestingly, regional RMSDs of anticodon stem-loop suggest that modified tRNA has more rigid structure compared to the unmodified tRNA in this domain. The anticodon RMSDs of the modified tRNAs, however, are higher than those of corresponding unmodified tRNAs. These findings suggest that rigidity of the anticodon arm is essential for tRNA translocation in the ribosome complex, and, on the other hand, flexibility of anticodon might be critical for anticodon - codon recognition. We also measure the angle between the 3D L-shaped arms of tRNA; backbone atoms of acceptor stem and TψC stem loop are selected to indicate one vector, and backbone atoms of anticodon stem and D stem loop are selected to indicate the other vector. By measuring the angle between two vectors, we find that the initiator tRNA has a narrower range of hinge motion compared to tRNA-Asp and tRNA-Phe, which are elongator tRNA. This suggests that elongator tRNAs, which might require significant flexibility in this hinge to transition from the A to P site in the ribosome, have evolved to specifically to accommodate this need.

Xiaoju Zhang1
Ross Walker2
David H. Mathews1*

1 Department of Biochemistry
Center for RNA Biology
University of Rochester Medical Center
Rochester, New York
2 San Diego Supercomputer Center
University of California San Diego
La Jolla, California

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