The structural basis for recognition of the preQ0 metabolite by an unusually small riboswitch aptamer domain

Robert C. Spitale, Andrew T. Torelli, Jolanta Krucinska, Vahe Bandarian, Joseph E. Wedekind

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Riboswitches are RNA elements that control gene expression through metabolite binding. The preQ1 riboswitch exhibits the smallest known ligand-binding domain and is of interest for its economical organization and high affinity interactions with guanine-derived metabolites required to confer tRNA wobbling. Here we present the crystal structure of a preQ1 aptamer domain in complex with its precursor metabolite preQ0. The structure is highly compact with a core that features a stem capped by a well organized decaloop. The metabolite is recognized within a deep pocket via Watson-Crick pairing with C15. Additional hydrogen bonds are made to invariant bases U6 and A29. The ligand-bound state confers continuous helical stacking throughout the core fold, thus providing a platform to promote Watson-Crick base pairing between C9 of the decaloop and the first base of the ribosome-binding site, G33. The structure offers insight into the mode of ribosome-binding site sequestration by a minimal RNA fold stabilized by metabolite binding and has implications for understanding the molecular basis by which bacterial genes are regulated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11012-11016
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number17
StatePublished - Apr 24 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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