NMR studies of the most conserved RNA domain of the mammalian signal recognition particle (SRP)

Uli Schmitz*, Douglas M. Freymann, Thomas L. James, Robert J. Keenan, Ravi Vinayak, Peter Walter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Mammalian signal recognition particle (SRP) and its homologues exhibit a phylogenetically conserved RNA domain, whose predicted secondary structure exhibits a hairpin motif with two bulged regions. Two RNA fragments comprising one (24 nt) or two (43 nt) of the conserved bulges were studied. Each fragment binds specifically to the domain of the Escherichia coli homologue of the SRP54 protein, which is involved in signal sequence recognition. The SRP RNA fragments exhibited a pronounced structural stabilization in the presence of Mg2+. Assignments of all base, H1', H2', and most imino proton resonances in the presence of Mg2+ were obtained for the 24mer RNA via NOE spectroscopy and correlated homonuclear NMR methods. 2D NOE patterns permitted a coarse structural description, revealing a relatively compact A-type geometry for the 24mer without any indications of looped-out nucleotides, syn-oriented bases, or base triplets. The GGAA-loop is structurally very similar to that of the GCAA tetraloop [Heus HA, Pardi A, 1991, Science 253:191-194]. Mg2+ seems to stabilize the structure of the conserved bulged region, which involves G:A and C:A mismatch pairs. Deviations from ideal A-type helicity are found for a larger region than the predicted secondary structure implies. Although no explicit assignment effort has been dedicated to the 43mer yet, striking similarity in chemical shift changes upon addition of Mg2+ allowed some structural conclusions. The bulge present in both RNA fragments exhibits a similar, pronounced flexibility in the absence of Mg2+, indicating that the additional bulge in the 43mer does not stabilize the other bulge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1213-1227
Number of pages15
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1996


  • NMR of RNA
  • RNA-protein recognition
  • signal recognition particle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology


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