Phosphorothioate-Based Site-Specific Labeling of Large RNAs for Structural and Dynamic Studies

Yanping Hu, Yan Wang, Jaideep Singh, Ruirui Sun, Lilei Xu, Xiaolin Niu, Keyun Huang, Guangcan Bai, Guoquan Liu, Xiaobing Zuo, Chunlai Chen, Peter Z. Qin, Xianyang Fang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pulsed electron-electron double resonance (PELDOR) spectroscopy, X-ray scattering interferometry (XSI), and single-molecule Förster resonance energy transfer (smFRET) are molecular rulers that provide inter- or intramolecular pair-wise distance distributions in the nanometer range, thus being ideally suitable for structural and dynamic studies of biomolecules including RNAs. The prerequisite for such applications requires site-specific labeling of biomolecules with spin labels, gold nanoparticles, and fluorescent tags, respectively. Recently, site-specific labeling of large RNAs has been achieved by a combination of transcription of an expanded genetic alphabet containing A-T/G-C base pairs and NaM-TPT3 unnatural base pair (UBP) with post-transcriptional modifications at UBP bases by click chemistry or amine-NHS ester reactions. However, due to the bulky sizes of functional groups or labeling probes used, such strategies might cause structural perturbation and decrease the accuracy of distance measurements. Here, we synthesize an α-thiophosphorylated variant of rTPT3TP (rTPT3αS), which allows for post-transcriptional site-specific labeling of large RNAs at the internal α-phosphate backbone via maleimide-modified probes. Subsequent PELDOR, XSI, and smFRET measurements result in narrower distance distributions than labeling at the TPT3 base. The presented strategy provides a new route to empower the molecular rulers for structural and dynamic studies of large RNA and its complex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2448-2460
Number of pages13
JournalACS Chemical Biology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 16 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine


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