Nature Communications, 15 November, 2023, DOI：https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-023-43232-z
Structural and dynamic mechanisms for coupled folding and tRNA recognition of a translational T-box riboswitch
Xiaolin Niu, Zhonghe Xu, Yufan Zhang, Xiaobing Zuo, Chunlai Chen & Xianyang Fang
T-box riboswitches are unique riboregulators where gene regulation is mediated through interactions between two highly structured RNAs. Despite extensive structural insights, how RNA-RNA interactions drive the folding and structural transitions of T-box to achieve functional conformations remains unclear. Here, by combining SAXS, single-molecule FRET and computational modeling, we elaborate the folding energy landscape of a translational T-box aptamer consisting of stems I, II and IIA/B, which Mg2+-induced global folding and tRNA binding are cooperatively coupled. smFRET measurements reveal that high Mg2+ stabilizes IIA/B and its stacking on II, which drives the pre-docking of I and II into a competent conformation, subsequent tRNA binding promotes docking of I and II to form a high-affinity tRNA binding groove, of which the essentiality of IIA/B and S-turn in II is substantiated with mutational analysis. We highlight a delicate balance among Mg2+, the intra- and intermolecular RNA-RNA interactions in modulating RNA folding and function.