Crystal structure of a bulged RNA tetraplex at 1.1 a resolution: implications for a novel binding site in RNA tetraplex

Structure. 2003 Nov;11(11):1423-30. doi: 10.1016/j.str.2003.09.017.


Bulges are an important structural motif in RNA and can be used as recognition and interaction sites in RNA-protein interaction and RNA-RNA interaction. Here we report the first crystal structure of a bulged RNA tetraplex at 1.1 A resolution. The hexamer r(U)(BrdG)r(UGGU) forms a parallel tetraplex with the uridine sandwiched by guanines bulging out. The bulged uridine adopts the syn glycosidic conformation and its O2 and N3 atoms face outwards, serving as an effective recognition and interaction site. The bulge formation both widens the groove width and changes the groove hydrogen-bonding pattern on its 5' side. However, the bulge does not make any bends or kinks in the tetraplex structure. The present study demonstrates the dramatic difference between uridine and guanine in forming tetraplex structure. In addition, both G(syn) tetrad and G(anti) tetrad have been observed. They display the same base-pairing pattern and similar C1'-C1' distance but different hydrogen-bonding patterns in the groove.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Binding Sites
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Guanine / chemistry
  • Hydrogen Bonding
  • Ions
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Models, Molecular
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Protein Conformation
  • RNA / chemistry*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism
  • Software
  • Uridine / chemistry
  • Water / chemistry


  • Ions
  • Water
  • Guanine
  • RNA
  • Uridine

Associated data

  • PDB/1P79