RNA structure refinement using NMR solvent accessibility data

Sci Rep. 2017 Jul 14;7(1):5393. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-05821-z.


NMR spectroscopy is a powerful technique to study ribonucleic acids (RNAs) which are key players in a plethora of cellular processes. Although the NMR toolbox for structural studies of RNAs expanded during the last decades, they often remain challenging. Here, we show that solvent paramagnetic relaxation enhancements (sPRE) induced by the soluble, paramagnetic compound Gd(DTPA-BMA) provide a quantitative measure for RNA solvent accessibility and encode distance-to-surface information that correlates well with RNA structure and improves accuracy and convergence of RNA structure determination. Moreover, we show that sPRE data can be easily obtained for RNAs with any isotope labeling scheme and is advantageous regarding sample preparation, stability and recovery. sPRE data show a large dynamic range and reflect the global fold of the RNA suggesting that they are well suited to identify interaction surfaces, to score structural models and as restraints in RNA structure determination.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Pairing
  • Gadolinium DTPA / chemistry*
  • Hydrogen Bonding
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / methods*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • RNA / chemistry*
  • RNA / ultrastructure
  • Solubility
  • Solutions
  • Solvents / chemistry*
  • Thermodynamics


  • Solutions
  • Solvents
  • RNA
  • gadodiamide
  • Gadolinium DTPA