Evidence for a base triple in the free HIV-1 TAR RNA
until further notice
SourceRna : a Publication of the Rna Society, 10, 3, (2004), pp. 412-423
Article / Letter to editor
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Physical Chemistry/Biophysical Chemistry
Rna : a Publication of the Rna Society
We propose the existence of a novel base triple in the HIV-1 TAR hairpin. This triple is supported by covariation of loop residue 31 with residue 22, which is part of an unusual base pair with U40 below the 3-nucleotide bulge. A set of mutants was constructed to test the involvement of bases A22, U31, and U40 in a triple interaction. RNA structure probing, trans-activation assays, and structure modeling are consistent with the existence of this base triple in a bent conformation of the free TAR element. However, disruption of the base triple does not affect binding of a Tat-derived peptide. We therefore compared the structure of free and Tat-bound TAR RNA by footprinting and site-specific cross-linking analyses. These studies indicate that the Tat arginine-rich motif, in addition to its known binding site at the bulge, is in close contact with U31 in the TAR loop. Because binding of Tat to TAR is known to coincide with the formation of a base triple with residues U23, A27, and U38, we hypothesize that Tat binding and the associated straightening of TAR triggers the disruption of the (A22-U40)U31 triple.
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