Characterizing hydrogen bonds in intact RNA from MS2 bacteriophage using magic angle spinning NMR

Orr Simon Lusky, Moran Meir, Amir Goldbourt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


RNA is a polymer with pivotal functions in many biological processes. RNA structure determination is thus a vital step toward understanding its function. The secondary structure of RNA is stabilized by hydrogen bonds formed between nucleotide basepairs, and it defines the positions and shapes of functional stem-loops, internal loops, bulges, and other functional and structural elements. In this work, we present a methodology for studying large intact RNA biomolecules using homonuclear 15N solid-state NMR spectroscopy. We show that proton-driven spin-diffusion experiments with long mixing times, up to 16 s, improved by the incorporation of multiple rotor-synchronous 1H inversion pulses (termed radio-frequency dipolar recoupling pulses), reveal key hydrogen-bond contacts. In the full-length RNA isolated from MS2 phage, we observed strong and dominant contributions of guanine-cytosine Watson-Crick basepairs, and beyond these common interactions, we observe a significant contribution of the guanine-uracil wobble basepairs. Moreover, we can differentiate basepaired and non-basepaired nitrogen atoms. Using the improved technique facilitates characterization of hydrogen-bond types in intact large-scale RNA using solid-state NMR. It can be highly useful to guide secondary structure prediction techniques and possibly structure determination methods.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100027
JournalBiophysical Reports
Issue number2
StatePublished - 8 Dec 2021


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