In an effort to reduce the conformational heterogeneity of RNA, the modified nucleobase 8-bromoguanosine (8BrG) was introduced into oligonucleotides having the hairpin tetraloop motif YNMG (Y = U or C and M = C or A). Purine nucleobases with bromine at position eight are known to preferentially adopt the syn conformation as nucleosides. The hairpin tetraloop motif YNMG was chosen as a model system because it has a syn guanosine at position four of the loop that is essential for thermodynamic stability. Thermodynamic and structural characterization of modified oligonucleotides with the hairpin sequences UUCG, CGCG, and CGAG by UV-melting and NMR spectroscopy revealed that 8BrG substitution has a small effect upon the hairpin conformation, while the duplex conformation is strongly destabilized (ΔΔG°37 ≈ +4.7 kcal mol-1), thus inhibiting dimerization. These results support a model in which 8BrG substitution shifts the hairpin-duplex equilibrium constant toward the hairpin conformation by destabilizing the duplex. This methodology should be useful for limiting conformational heterogeneity in large RNAs, with potential applications in structural biology and enzymology.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry