Identification of RNA Base Pairs and Complete Assignment of Nucleobase Resonances by Proton-Detected Solid-State NMR Spectroscopy at 100 kHz MAS

Angewandte Chemie International Edition


Knowledge of RNA structure, either in isolation or in complex, is fundamental to understand the mechanism of cellular processes. Solid-state NMR (ssNMR) is applicable to high molecular-weight complexes and does not require crystallization; thus, it is well-suited to study RNA as part of large multicomponent assemblies. Recently, we solved the first structures of both RNA and an RNA-protein complex by ssNMR using conventional 13C- and 15N-detection. This approach is limited by the severe overlap of the RNA peaks together with the low sensitivity of multidimensional experiments. Here, we overcome the limitations in sensitivity and resolution by using 1H-detection at fast MAS rates. We develop experiments that allow the identification of complete nucleobase spin-systems together with their site-specific base pair pattern using sub-milligram quantities of one uniformly labelled RNA sample. These experiments provide rapid access to RNA secondary structure by ssNMR in protein-RNA complexes of any size.