Mechanism of Ligand Discrimination by the NMT1 Riboswitch.

Academic Article


  • Riboswitches are conserved functional domains in mRNA that almost exclusively exist in bacteria. They regulate the biosynthesis and transport of amino acids and essential metabolites such as coenzymes, nucleobases, and their derivatives by specifically binding small molecules. Due to their ability to precisely discriminate between different cognate molecules as well as their common existence in bacteria, riboswitches have become potential antibacterial drug targets that could deliver urgently needed antibiotics with novel mechanisms of action. In this work, we report the recognition mechanisms of four oxidization products (XAN, AZA, UAC, and HPA) generated during purine degradation by an RNA motif termed the NMT1 riboswitch. Specifically, we investigated the physical interactions between the riboswitch and the oxidized metabolites by computing the changes in the free energy on mutating key nucleobases in the ligand binding pocket of the riboswitch. We discovered that the electrostatic interactions are central to ligand discrimination by this riboswitch. The relative binding free energies of the mutations further indicated that some of the mutations can also strengthen the binding affinities of the ligands (AZA, UAC, and HPA). These mechanistic details are also potentially relevant in the design of novel compounds targeting riboswitches.
  • Authors

  • Kumar, Amit
  • Vashisth, Harish
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • August 14, 2023
  • Keywords

  • Bacteria
  • Ligands
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Riboswitch
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 37486304
  • Start Page

  • 4864
  • End Page

  • 4874
  • Volume

  • 63
  • Issue

  • 15