Straightening of bulged RNA by the double-stranded RNA-binding domain from the protein kinase PKR

Xiaofeng Zheng, Philip C. Bevilacqua

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The human interferon-induced protein kinase, PKR, is an antiviral agent that is activated by long stretches of double-stranded (ds)RNA. PKR has an N-terminal dsRNA-binding domain that contains two tandem copies of the dsRNA-binding motif and interacts with dsRNA in a nonsequence-specific fashion. Surprisingly, PKR can be regulated by certain viral and cellular RNAs containing non-Watson-Crick features. We found that RNAs containing bulges in the middle of a helix can bind to p20, a C-terminal truncated PKR containing the dsRNA-binding domain. Bulges are known to change the global geometry of RNA by bending the helical axis; therefore, we investigated the conformational changes of bulged RNA caused by PKR binding. A 66-mer DNA-RNA(+/- A3 bulge)-DNA chimera was constructed and annealed to a complementary RNA strand. This duplex forces the protein to bind in the middle. A 66-mer duplex with a top strand composed of DNA-DNA(+/-A3 bulge)-RNA was used as a control. Gel mobility-shift changes among the RNA-protein complexes are consistent with straightening of bulged RNA on protein binding. In addition, a van't Hoff analysis of p20 binding to bulged RNA reveals a favorable ΔΔH° and an unfavorable ΔΔS° relative to binding to straight dsRNA. These thermodynamic parameters are in good agreement with predictions from a nearest-neighbor analysis for RNA straightening and support a model in which the helical junction flanking the bulge stacks on protein binding. The ability of dsRNA-binding motif proteins to recognize and straighten bent RNA has implications for modulating the topology of RNAs in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14162-14167
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number26
StatePublished - Dec 19 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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