Posttranscriptional site-directed spin labeling of large RNAs with an unnatural base pair system under non-denaturing conditions

Yan Wang, Venkatesan Kathiresan, Yaoyi Chen, Yanping Hu, Wei Jiang, Guangcan Bai, Guoquan Liu, Peter Z. Qin, Xianyang Fang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Site-directed spin labeling (SDSL) of large RNAs for electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy has remained challenging to date. We here demonstrate an efficient and generally applicable posttranscriptional SDSL method for large RNAs using an expanded genetic alphabet containing the NaM-TPT3 unnatural base pair (UBP). An alkyne-modified TPT3 ribonucleotide triphosphate (rTPT3COTP) is synthesized and site-specifically incorporated into large RNAs byin vitrotranscription, which allows attachment of the azide-containing nitroxide through click chemistry. We validate this strategy by SDSL of a 419-nucleotide ribonuclease P (RNase P) RNA fromBacillus stearothermophilusunder non-denaturing conditions. The effects of site-directed UBP incorporation and subsequent spin labeling on the global structure and function of RNase P are marginal as evaluated by Circular Dichroism spectroscopy, Small Angle X-ray Scattering, Sedimentation Velocity Analytical Ultracentrifugation and enzymatic assay. Continuous-Wave EPR analyses reveal that the labeling reaction is efficient and specific, and Pulsed Electron-Electron Double Resonance measurements yield an inter-spin distance distribution that agrees with the crystal structure. The labeling strategy as presented overcomes the size constraint of RNA labeling, opening new avenues of spin labeling and EPR spectroscopy for investigating the structure and dynamics of large RNAs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9655-9664
Number of pages10
JournalChemical Science
Issue number35
StatePublished - Sep 21 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry


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