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      Conformational dynamics of the frameshift stimulatory structure in HIV-1


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          Programmed ribosomal frameshifting (PRF) in HIV-1 is thought to be stimulated by a hairpin in the mRNA, although a pseudoknot-like triplex has also been proposed. Because the conformational dynamics of the stimulatory structure under tension applied by the ribosomal helicase during translation may play an important role in PRF, we used optical tweezers to apply tension to the HIV stimulatory structure and monitor its unfolding and refolding dynamics. The folding and unfolding kinetics and energy landscape of the hairpin were measured by ramping the force on the hairpin up and down, providing a detailed biophysical characterization. Unexpectedly, whereas unfolding reflected the simple two-state behavior typical of many hairpins, refolding was more complex, displaying significant heterogeneity. Evidence was found for multiple refolding pathways as well as previously unsuspected, partially folded intermediates. Measuring a variant mRNA containing only the sequence required to form the proposed triplex, it behaved largely in the same way. Nonetheless, very rarely, high-force unfolding events characteristic of pseudoknot-like structures were observed. The rare occurrence of the triplex suggests that the hairpin is the functional stimulatory structure. The unusual heterogeneity of the hairpin dynamics under tension suggests a possible functional role in PRF similar to the dynamics of other stimulatory structures.

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          Most cited references66

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          Mfold web server for nucleic acid folding and hybridization prediction.

          M Zuker (2003)
          The abbreviated name, 'mfold web server', describes a number of closely related software applications available on the World Wide Web (WWW) for the prediction of the secondary structure of single stranded nucleic acids. The objective of this web server is to provide easy access to RNA and DNA folding and hybridization software to the scientific community at large. By making use of universally available web GUIs (Graphical User Interfaces), the server circumvents the problem of portability of this software. Detailed output, in the form of structure plots with or without reliability information, single strand frequency plots and 'energy dot plots', are available for the folding of single sequences. A variety of 'bulk' servers give less information, but in a shorter time and for up to hundreds of sequences at once. The portal for the mfold web server is http://www.bioinfo.rpi.edu/applications/mfold. This URL will be referred to as 'MFOLDROOT'.
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            Stretching DNA with optical tweezers.

            Force-extension (F-x) relationships were measured for single molecules of DNA under a variety of buffer conditions, using an optical trapping interferometer modified to incorporate feedback control. One end of a single DNA molecule was fixed to a coverglass surface by means of a stalled RNA polymerase complex. The other end was linked to a microscopic bead, which was captured and held in an optical trap. The DNA was subsequently stretched by moving the coverglass with respect to the trap using a piezo-driven stage, while the position of the bead was recorded at nanometer-scale resolution. An electronic feedback circuit was activated to prevent bead movement beyond a preset clamping point by modulating the light intensity, altering the trap stiffness dynamically. This arrangement permits rapid determination of the F-x relationship for individual DNA molecules as short as -1 micron with unprecedented accuracy, subjected to both low (approximately 0.1 pN) and high (approximately 50 pN) loads: complete data sets are acquired in under a minute. Experimental F-x relationships were fit over much of their range by entropic elasticity theories based on worm-like chain models. Fits yielded a persistence length, Lp, of approximately 47 nm in a buffer containing 10 mM Na1. Multivalent cations, such as Mg2+ or spermidine 3+, reduced Lp to approximately 40 nm. Although multivalent ions shield most of the negative charges on the DNA backbone, they did not further reduce Lp significantly, suggesting that the intrinsic persistence length remains close to 40 nm. An elasticity theory incorporating both enthalpic and entropic contributions to stiffness fit the experimental results extremely well throughout the full range of extensions and returned an elastic modulus of approximately 1100 pN.
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              Biological applications of optical forces.


                Author and article information

                Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press
                September 2017
                : 23
                : 9
                : 1376-1384
                [1 ]Department of Physics, University of Alberta, Edmonton AB T6G 2E1, Canada
                [2 ]National Institute for Nanotechnology, National Research Council, Edmonton AB T6G 2M9, Canada
                Author notes
                Author information
                9509184 RA
                © 2017 Ritchie et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press for the RNA Society

                This article is distributed exclusively by the RNA Society for the first 12 months after the full-issue publication date (see http://rnajournal.cshlp.org/site/misc/terms.xhtml). After 12 months, it is available under a Creative Commons License (Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International), as described at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.

                : 12 April 2017
                : 12 May 2017
                Page count
                Pages: 9
                Funded by: Canadian Institutes of Health Research , open-funder-registry 10.13039/501100000024;
                Funded by: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Canada , open-funder-registry 10.13039/501100000038;
                Funded by: Alberta Innovates Technology Futures , open-funder-registry 10.13039/501100000146;
                Funded by: National Research Council Canada , open-funder-registry 10.13039/501100000046;

                programmed ribosomal frameshifting,rna folding,force spectroscopy,optical tweezers


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