RNA folding and catalysis mediated by iron (II).

TitleRNA folding and catalysis mediated by iron (II).
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsAthavale, SS, Petrov, AS, Hsiao, C, Watkins, D, Prickett, CD, J Gossett, J, Lie, L, Bowman, JC, O'Neill, E, Bernier, CR, Hud, NV, Wartell, RM, Harvey, SC, Williams, LDean
JournalPLoS One
Date Published2012
KeywordsCatalysis, Iron, Magnesium, Nucleic Acid Conformation, RNA, RNA Folding, RNA, Catalytic, Tetrahymena thermophila

Mg²⁺ shares a distinctive relationship with RNA, playing important and specific roles in the folding and function of essentially all large RNAs. Here we use theory and experiment to evaluate Fe²⁺ in the absence of free oxygen as a replacement for Mg²⁺ in RNA folding and catalysis. We describe both quantum mechanical calculations and experiments that suggest that the roles of Mg²⁺ in RNA folding and function can indeed be served by Fe²⁺. The results of quantum mechanical calculations show that the geometry of coordination of Fe²⁺ by RNA phosphates is similar to that of Mg²⁺. Chemical footprinting experiments suggest that the conformation of the Tetrahymena thermophila Group I intron P4-P6 domain RNA is conserved between complexes with Fe²⁺ or Mg²⁺. The catalytic activities of both the L1 ribozyme ligase, obtained previously by in vitro selection in the presence of Mg²⁺, and the hammerhead ribozyme are enhanced in the presence of Fe²⁺ compared to Mg²⁺. All chemical footprinting and ribozyme assays in the presence of Fe²⁺ were performed under anaerobic conditions. The primary motivation of this work is to understand RNA in plausible early earth conditions. Life originated during the early Archean Eon, characterized by a non-oxidative atmosphere and abundant soluble Fe²⁺. The combined biochemical and paleogeological data are consistent with a role for Fe²⁺ in an RNA World. RNA and Fe²⁺ could, in principle, support an array of RNA structures and catalytic functions more diverse than RNA with Mg²⁺ alone.

Alternate JournalPLoS ONE
PubMed ID22701543
PubMed Central IDPMC3365117