SAM Recognition and Conformational Switching Mechanism in the Bacillus subtilis yitJ S Box/SAM-I Riboswitch

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S-box (SAM-I) riboswitches are a widespread class of riboswitches involved in the regulation of sulfur metabolism in Gram-positive bacteria. We report here the 3.0-Å crystal structure of the aptamer domain of the Bacillus subtilis yitJ S-box (SAM-I) riboswitch bound to S-adenosyl-. l-methionine (SAM). The RNA folds into two sets of helical stacks spatially arranged by tertiary interactions including a K-turn and a pseudoknot at a four-way junction. The tertiary structure is further stabilized by metal coordination, extensive ribose zipper interactions, and SAM-mediated tertiary interactions. Despite structural differences in the peripheral regions, the SAM-binding core of the B. subtilis yitJ riboswitch is virtually superimposable with the previously determined Thermoanaerobacter tengcongensis yitJ riboswitch structure, suggesting that a highly conserved ligand-recognition mechanism is utilized by all S-box riboswitches. SHAPE (selective 2'-hydroxyl acylation analyzed by primer extension) chemical probing analysis further revealed that the alternative base-pairing element in the expression platform controls the conformational switching process. In the absence of SAM, the apo yitJ aptamer domain folds predominantly into a pre-binding conformation that resembles, but is not identical with, the SAM-bound state. We propose that SAM enters the ligand-binding site through the "J1/2-J3/4" gate and "locks" down the SAM-bound conformation through an induced-fit mechanism. Temperature-dependent SHAPE revealed that the tertiary interaction-stabilized SAM-binding core is extremely stable, likely due to the cooperative RNA folding behavior. Mutational studies revealed that certain modifications in the SAM-binding region result in loss of SAM binding and constitutive termination, which suggests that these mutations lock the RNA into a form that resembles the SAM-bound form in the absence of SAM. © 2010.

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Lu, C., Ding, F., Chowdhury, A., Pradhan, V., Tomsic, J., Holmes, W. M., … Ke, A. (2010). SAM Recognition and Conformational Switching Mechanism in the Bacillus subtilis yitJ S Box/SAM-I Riboswitch. Journal of Molecular Biology, 404(5), 803–818.

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