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Title: Crystal structure of a poly(rA) staggered zipper at acidic pH: evidence that adenine N1 protonation mediates parallel double helix formation

We have solved at 1.07 Å resolution the X-ray crystal structure of a polyriboadenylic acid (poly(rA)) parallel and continuous double helix. Fifty-nine years ago, double helices of poly(rA) were first proposed to form at acidic pH. Here, we show that 7-mer oligo(rA), i.e. rA 7, hybridizes and overlaps in all registers at pH 3.5 to form stacked double helices that span the crystal. Under these conditions, rA 7 forms well-ordered crystals, whereas rA 6 forms fragile crystalline-like structures, and rA 5, rA 8 and rA 11 fail to crystallize. Our findings support studies from ~50 years ago: one showed using spectroscopic methods that duplex formation at pH 4.5 largely starts with rA 7 and begins to plateau with rA 8; another proposed a so-called ‘staggered zipper’ model in which oligo(rA) strands overlap in multiple registers to extend the helical duplex. While never shown, protonation of adenines at position N1 has been hypothesized to be critical for helix formation. Bond angles in our structure suggest that N1 is protonated on the adenines of every other rAMP–rAMP helix base pair. Lastly, our data offer new insights into poly(rA) duplex formation that may be useful in developing a pH sensor.
Authors:
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [1]
  1. Univ. of Rochester, Rochester, NY (United States)
Publication Date:
Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Nucleic Acids Research
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 44; Journal Issue: 17; Journal ID: ISSN 0305-1048
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Research Org:
Office of Scientific and Technical Information, Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
59 BASIC BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES; 60 APPLIED LIFE SCIENCES
OSTI Identifier:
1375924