A high-throughput and rapid computational method for screening of RNA post-transcriptional modifications that can be recognized by target proteins.

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Methods (San Diego, Calif.), ISSN: 1095-9130

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Orr, Asuka A; Gonzalez-Rivera, Juan C; Wilson, Mark; Bhikha, P Reena; Wang, Daiqi; Contreras, Lydia M; Tamamis, Phanourios
Elsevier BV
Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
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article description
There are over 150 currently known, highly diverse chemically modified RNAs, which are dynamic, reversible, and can modulate RNA-protein interactions. Yet, little is known about the wealth of such interactions. This can be attributed to the lack of tools that allow the rapid study of all the potential RNA modifications that might mediate RNA-protein interactions. As a promising step toward this direction, here we present a computational protocol for the characterization of interactions between proteins and RNA containing post-transcriptional modifications. Given an RNA-protein complex structure, potential RNA modified ribonucleoside positions, and molecular mechanics parameters for capturing energetics of RNA modifications, our protocol operates in two stages. In the first stage, a decision-making tool, comprising short simulations and interaction energy calculations, performs a fast and efficient search in a high-throughput fashion, through a list of different types of RNA modifications categorized into trees according to their structural and physicochemical properties, and selects a subset of RNA modifications prone to interact with the target protein. In the second stage, RNA modifications that are selected as recognized by the protein are examined in-detail using all-atom simulations and free energy calculations. We implement and experimentally validate this protocol in a test case involving the study of RNA modifications in complex with Escherichia coli (E. coli) protein Polynucleotide Phosphorylase (PNPase), depicting the favorable interaction between 8-oxo-7,8-dihydroguanosine (8-oxoG) RNA modification and PNPase. Further advancement of the protocol can broaden our understanding of protein interactions with all known RNA modifications in several systems.