Monitoring Real-time Temperature Dynamics of a Short RNA Hairpin Using Förster Resonance Energy Transfer and Circular Dichroism.
RNA secondary structures are highly dynamic and subject to prompt changes in response to the environment. Temperature in particular has a strong impact on RNA structural conformation, and temperature-sensitive RNA hairpin structures have been exploited by multiple organisms to modify the rate of translation in response to temperature changes. Observing RNA structural changes in real-time over a range of temperatures is therefore highly desirable. A variety of approaches exists that probe RNA secondary structures, but many of these either require large amount and/or extensive processing of the RNA or cannot be applied under physiological conditions, rendering the observation of structural dynamics over a range of temperatures difficult. Here, we describe the use of a dually fluorescently labelled RNA oligonucleotide (containing the predicted hairpin structure) that can be used to monitor subtle RNA-structural dynamics by Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) at different temperatures with RNA concentration as low as 200 nM. FRET efficiency varies as a function of the fluorophores' distance; high efficiency can thus be correlated to a stable hairpin structure, whilst a reduction in FRET efficiency reflects a partial opening of the hairpin or a destabilisation of this structure. The same RNA sequence can also be used for Circular Dichroism spectroscopy to observe global changes of RNA secondary structure at a given temperature. The combination of these approaches allowed us to monitor RNA structural dynamics over a range of temperatures in real-time and correlate structural changes to plant biology phenotypes. Graphic abstract: Monitoring temperature-dependent RNA structural dynamics using Förster Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET).
Online Publication Date
Medical Research Council (MR/R021821/1)
Isaac Newton Trust (19.07(h))