Indexed on: 05 May '10Published on: 05 May '10Published in: PNAS
Conformational transitions and structural rearrangements are central to the function of many RNAs yet remain poorly understood. We have used ultrafast multidimensional NMR techniques to monitor the adenine-induced folding of an adenine-sensing riboswitch in real time, with nucleotide-resolved resolution. By following changes in 2D spectra at rates of approximately 0.5 Hz, we identify distinct steps associated with the ligand-induced folding of the riboswitch. Following recognition of the ligand, long range loop-loop interactions form and are then progressively stabilized before the formation of a fully stable complex over approximately 2-3 minutes. The application of these ultrafast multidimensional NMR methods provides the opportunity to determine the structure of RNA folding intermediates and conformational trajectories.