Journal article

NMR-spectroscopic characterization of phosphodiester bond cleavage catalyzed by the minimal hammerhead ribozyme

In order to relate the conformational dynamics of the hammerhead ribozyme to its biological function the cleavage reaction catalyzed by the hammerhead ribozyme was monitored by time-resolved nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. For this purpose, the two nucleosides around the scissile phosphodiester bond were selectively C-13 labelled in multi-step organic syntheses starting from uniformly C-13-labelled glucose. The phosphoamidites were incorporated using phosphoamidite chemistry in the hammerhead substrate strand. In addition, the 2'-OH group on the 5'-side of the hammerhead substrate strand was labelled with a photolabile protecting group. This labelling strategy enabled a detailed characterisation of the nucleotides around the scissile phosphodiester bond in the ground state conformation of the hammerhead ribozyme in the absence and presence of Mg2+ ions as well as of the product state. Photochemical induction of the reaction in situ was further characterized by time-resolved NMR spectroscopy. The detailed structural and dynamic investigations revealed that the conformation of the hammerhead ribozyme is significantly affected by addition of Mg2+ leading to an ensemble of conformations where dynamic transitions between energetically similar conformations occur on the ms-timescale in the presence of Mg2+. The dynamic transitions are localized around the catalytic core. Cleavage from this ensemble cannot be described by mono-exponential kinetics but follows bi-exponential kinetics. A model is described to take into account these experimental data.


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