Albany 2013: Book of Abstracts

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

Computer folding of RNA tetraloops? Are we there yet?

The tetraloops (Tls) are basic and unusually stable building blocks of RNA structure that often participate in a variety of biochemical processes – including nucleation in RNA, folding, and formation of tertiary contacts. Moreover, they are known to play roles in transcription and translation as well as serving as recognition sites for RNA binding proteins. Understanding the folding of small RNA hairpins is a critical first step in understanding the folding of larger RNA molecules.

In present study, we investigate the folding and unfolding of two RNA Tls at the atomic level based on replica exchange molecular dynamics simulations. Using the most recent reparametrization of the Amber family of RNA force fields (ff99bsc0χOL3 (Banáš et. al 2010, Zgarbová et. al 2011)), we have, for the first time, folded tetraloop structures to within 2 Ã… all-atom RMSD of the native structure involving all signature interactions of native fold, starting from fully unfolded conformations. The most native-like structures reported by previous studies were only ~4 Ã… from native; due to force field deficiencies, Tl structures degraded even in short MD simulations initiated from folded.(Banáš et. al 2010) We described the folding pathway, which is very similar for both tetraloops, and it is comparable with experimental results. Further, we can use our results to address several questions related to the biological function of tetraloops. For example, an open question is whether the antibiotic restritocin induces the conformational change of the GNRA TL or binds to a transiently unstructured GNRA TL. We observed the misfolded state of UUCG Tl recently suggested by mutation experiments, which most likely acts as a kinetic trap during UUCG folding. We can also relate our results to ultrafast spectrosopy experiments that identified some features of misfolded states of GNRA TLs reminiscent of the misfolded-compact GAGA structure identified in this study. Nevertheless, our simulations show that despite REMD technique being powerful tool which significant increases the sampling, obtaining an equilibrium between the unfolded, misfolded and folded states is still very challenging.

The authors gratefully acknowledge the support by the Operational Program Research and Development for Innovations - European Regional Development Fund (project CZ.1.05/2.1.00/03.0058), the Operational Program Education for Competitiveness - European Social Fund (project CZ.1.07/2.3.00/20.0017), and Integration of Regional Centre of Advanced Technologies and Materials into International Networks of Nanotechnological and Optical Research (project CZ.1.07/2.3.00/20.0058).


    P. Banáš, D. Hollas, M. Zgarbová, P. Jurečka, M. Orozco, T. E. Cheatham, J. Å poner, M. Otyepka (2010). Performance of molecular mechanics force fields for RNA simulations. Stability of UUCG and GNRA hairpins. J Chem Theory Comput, 6 ,12, 3836-3849.

    M. Zgarbová, M. Otyepka, J. Å poner, A. Mládek, P. Banáš, T.E. Cheatham, P. Jurečka (2011). Refinement of the Cornell et al. nucleic acid force field based on reference quantum chemical calculations of torsion profiles of the glycosidic torsion J Chem Theory Comput, 7, 9, 2886-2902.

Petra Kührová 1
Pavel Banáš1
Robert B. Best2
Jiří Å poner 3
Michal Otyepka1, 3

1 Dep. Physical Chemistry and RCPTM
Faculty of Science
Palacky University Olomouc
17. listopadu 12
771 46 Olomouc, Czech Republic.
2 Laboratory of Chemical Physics
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD 20892-0520.
3 Institute of Biophysics
Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
Kralovopolska 135
612 65 Brno, Czech Republic.

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