Amino acid recognition and gene regulation by riboswitches.

Structural Biology Program, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY 10021, USA.
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (Impact Factor: 4.66). 08/2009; 1789(9-10):592-611. DOI: 10.1016/j.bbagrm.2009.07.002
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Riboswitches specifically control expression of genes predominantly involved in biosynthesis, catabolism and transport of various cellular metabolites in organisms from all three kingdoms of life. Among many classes of identified riboswitches, two riboswitches respond to amino acids lysine and glycine to date. Though these riboswitches recognize small compounds, they both belong to the largest riboswitches and have unique structural and functional characteristics. In this review, we attempt to characterize molecular recognition principles employed by amino acid-responsive riboswitches to selectively bind their cognate ligands and to effectively perform a gene regulation function. We summarize up-to-date biochemical and genetic data available for the lysine and glycine riboswitches and correlate these results with recent high-resolution structural information obtained for the lysine riboswitch. We also discuss the contribution of lysine riboswitches to antibiotic resistance and outline potential applications of riboswitches in biotechnology and medicine.

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    ABSTRACT: T-boxes are gene-regulatory mRNA elements with which Gram-positive bacteria sense amino acid availability. T-boxes have two functional domains. Stem I recognizes the overall shape and anticodon of tRNA, while a 3' domain evaluates its aminoacylation status, overcoming an otherwise stable transcriptional terminator if the bound tRNA is uncharged. Although T-boxes are believed to evaluate tRNA charge status without using any proteins, this has not been demonstrated experimentally because of the instability of aminoacyl-tRNA. Using a simple method to prepare homogeneous aminoacyl-tRNA, we show that the Bacillus subtilis glyQS T-box functions independently of any tRNA-binding protein. Comparison of aminoacyl-tRNA analogs demonstrates that the T-box detects the molecular volume of tRNA 3'-substituents. Calorimetry and fluorescence lifetime analysis of labeled RNAs shows that the tRNA acceptor end coaxially stacks on a helix in the T-box 3' domain. This intimate intermolecular association, selective for uncharged tRNA, stabilizes the antiterminator conformation of the T-box.
    Molecular cell. 06/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: T-box riboswitches control transcription of downstream genes through the tRNA-binding formation of terminator or antiterminator structures. Previously reported T-boxes were described as single-specificity riboswitches that can bind specific tRNA anticodons through codon–anticodon interactions with the nucleotide triplet of their specifier loop (SL). However, the possibility that T-boxes might exhibit specificity beyond a single tRNA had been overlooked. In Clostridium acetobutylicum, the T-box that regulates the operon for the essential tRNA-dependent transamidation pathway harbors a SL with two potential overlapping codon positions for tRNAAsn and tRNAGlu. To test its specificity, we performed extensive mutagenic, biochemical, and chemical probing analyses. Surprisingly, both tRNAs can efficiently bind the SL in vitro and in vivo. The dual specificity of the T-box is allowed by a single base shift on the SL from one overlapping codon to the next. This feature allows the riboswitch to sense two tRNAs and balance the biosynthesis of two amino acids. Detailed genomic comparisons support our observations and suggest that “flexible” T-box riboswitches are widespread among bacteria, and, moreover, their specificity is dictated by the metabolic interconnection of the pathways under control. Taken together, our results support the notion of a genome-dependent codon ambiguity of the SLs. Furthermore, the existence of two overlapping codons imposes a unique example of tRNA-dependent regulation at the transcriptional level.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 07/2013; · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Purpose: Riboswitches, as noncoding RNA sequences, control gene expression through direct ligand binding. Sporadic reports on the structural relation of riboswitches with ribosomal RNAs (rRNA), raises an interest in possible similarity between riboswitches and rRNAs evolutionary origins. Since aminoglycoside antibiotics affect microbial cells through binding to functional sites of the bacterial rRNA, finding any conformational and functional relation between riboswitches/rRNAs is utmost important in both of medicinal and basic research. Methods: Analysis of the riboswitches structures were carried out using bioinformatics and computational tools. The possible functional similarity of riboswitches with rRNAs was evaluated based on the affinity of paromomycin antibiotic (targeting "A site" of 16S rRNA) to riboswitches via docking method. Results: There was high structural similarity between riboswitches and rRNAs, but not any particular sequence based similarity between them was found. The building blocks including "hairpin loop containing UUU", "peptidyl transferase center conserved hairpin A loop"," helix 45" and "S2 (G8) hairpin" as high identical rRNA motifs were detected in all kinds of riboswitches. Surprisingly, binding energies of paromomycin with different riboswitches are considerably better than the binding energy of paromomycin with "16S rRNA A site". Therefore the high affinity of paromomycin to bind riboswitches in comparison with rRNA "A site" suggests a new insight about riboswitches as possible targets for aminoglycoside antibiotics. Conclusion: These findings are considered as a possible supporting evidence for evolutionary origin of riboswitches/rRNAs and also their role in the exertion of antibiotics effects to design new drugs based on the concomitant effects via rRNA/riboswitches.
    Advanced Pharmaceutical Bulletin 01/2014; 4(3):225-35. · 0.88 Impact Factor