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Force field based conformational analysis of RNA structural motifs: GNRA tetraloops and their pyrimidine relatives

Item Type:Article
Title:Force field based conformational analysis of RNA structural motifs: GNRA tetraloops and their pyrimidine relatives
Creators Name:Maier, A. and Sklenar, H. and Kratky, H.F. and Renner, A. and Schuster, P.
Abstract:The protocol of conformational analysis applied here to ribonucleotide oligomers combines conformational search in the space of torsion angles and energy minimization using the AMBER4.1 force field with a continuum treatment of electrostatic solute-solvent interactions. RNA fragments with 5'-GGGCGNNAGCCU-3' sequences commonly fold into hairpins with four-membered loops. The combinatorial search for acceptable conformations using the MC-SYM program was restricted to loop nucleotides and yielded roughly 1500 structures being compatible with a double-stranded stem. After energy minimization by the JUMNA program (without applying any experimental constraints), these structures converged into an ensemble of 74 different conformers including 26 structures which contained the sheared G-A base pair observed in experimental studies of GNRA tetraloops. Energetic analysis shows that inclusion of solvent electrostatic effects is critically important for the selection of conformers that agree with experimentally determined structures. The continuum model accounts for solvent polarization by means of the electrostatic reaction field. In the case of GNRA loop sequences, the contributions of the reaction field shift relative stabilities towards conformations showing most of the structural features derived from NMR studies. The agreement of computed conformations with the experimental structures of GAAA, GCAA, and GAGA tetraloops suggests that the continuum treatment of the solvent represents a definitive improvement over methods using simple damping models in electrostatic energy calculations. Application of the procedure described here to the evaluation of the relative stabilities of conformers resulting from searching the conformational space of RNA structural motifs provides some progress in (non-homology based) RNA 3D-structure prediction.
Keywords:RNA Structural Motifs, GNRA Tetraloops, Conformational Search, Solvent Effects, Electrostatic Continuum Model
Source:European Biophysics Journal with Biophysics Letters
Page Range:564-573
Official Publication:https://doi.org/10.1007/s002490050238
PubMed:View item in PubMed

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