Structural information on complex biological RNA molecules can be exploited to design tectoRNAs or artificial modular RNA units that can self-assemble through tertiary interactions thereby forming nanoscale RNA objects. The selective interactions of hairpin tetraloops with their receptors can be used to mediate tectoRNA assembly. Here we report on the modulation of the specificity and the strength of tectoRNA assembly tin the nanomolar to micromolar range) by variation of the length of the RNA subunits, the nature of their interacting motifs and the degree of flexibility of linker regions incorporated into the molecules. The association is also dependent on the concentration of magnesium, Monitoring of tectoRNA assembly by lead(ll) cleavage protection indicates that some degree of structural flexibility is required for optimal binding. With tectoRNAs one can compare the binding affinities of different tertiary motifs and quantify the strength of individual interactions. Furthermore, in analogy to the synthons used in organic chemistry to synthesize more complex organic compounds, tectoRNAs form the basic assembly units for constructing complex RNA structures on the nanometer scale. Thus, tectoRNA provides a means for constructing molecular scaffoldings that organize functional modules in three-dimensional space for a wide range of applications.
Leontis, Neocles B.; Jaeger, Luc; and Westhof, Eric, "TectoRNA: Modular Assembly Units for the Construction of RNA Nano-Objects" (2001). Chemistry Faculty Publications. 4.
Nucleic Acids Research
Oxford University Press