Synthesis, base pairing and structure studies of geranylated RNA
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Natural RNAs utilize extensive chemical modifications to diversify their structures and functions. 2-Thiouridine geranylation is a special hydrophobic tRNA modification that has been discovered very recently in several bacteria, such as Escherichia coli, Enterobacter aerogenes, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Salmonella Typhimurium The geranylated residues are located in the first anticodon position of tRNAs specific for lysine, glutamine and glutamic acid. This big hydrophobic terpene functional group affects the codon recognition patterns and reduces frameshifting errors during translation. We aimed to systematically study the structure, function and biosynthesis mechanism of this geranylation pathway, as well as answer the question of why nature uses such a hydrophobic modification in hydrophilic RNA systems. Recently, we have synthesized the deoxy-analog of S-geranyluridine and showed the geranylated T-G pair is much stronger than the geranylated T-A pair and other mismatched pairs in the B-form DNA duplex context, which is consistent with the observation that the geranylated tRNA(Glu) UUC recognizes GAG more efficiently than GAA. In this manuscript we report the synthesis and base pairing specificity studies of geranylated RNA oligos. We also report extensive molecular simulation studies to explore the structural features of the geranyl group in the context of A-form RNA and its effect on codon-anticodon interaction during ribosome binding.