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Chemical probing for examining the structure of modified RNAs and ligand binding to RNA

Waduge, Prabuddha, Sakakibara, Yogo, Chow, Christine S.
Methods 2019 v.156 pp. 110-120
aminoglycosides, antibiotics, dimethyl sulfate, ligands, nucleosides, protein subunits, protein synthesis, ribosomal RNA, ribosomal proteins, ribosomes
Among different RNA modifications, the helix 69 (H69) region of the bacterial ribosomal RNA (rRNA) contains three pseudouridines (Ψs). H69 is functionally important due to its location in the heart of the ribosome. Several structural and functional studies have shown the importance of Ψ modifications in influencing the H69 conformation as well as maintaining key interactions in the ribosome during protein synthesis. Therefore, a need exists to understand the influence of modified nucleosides on conformational dynamics of the ribosome under solution conditions that mimic the cellular environment. In this review on chemical probing, we provide detailed protocols for the use of dimethyl sulfate (DMS) to examine H69 conformational states and the influence of Ψ modifications under varying solution conditions in the context of both ribosomal subunits and full ribosomes. The use of DMS footprinting to study the binding of aminoglycosides to the H69 region of bacterial rRNA as a potential antibiotic target will also be discussed. As highlighted in this work, DMS probing and footprinting are versatile techniques that can be used to gain important insight into RNA local structure and RNA-ligand interactions, respectively.