Crystal Structures of the Mango-II RNA Aptamer Reveal Heterogeneous Fluorophore Binding and Guide Engineering of Variants with Improved Selectivity and Brightness.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Biochemistry, Volume 57, Issue 26, p.3544-3548 (2018)


<p>Several RNA aptamers that bind small molecules and enhance their fluorescence have been successfully used to tag and track RNAs in vivo, but these genetically encodable tags have not yet achieved single-fluorophore resolution. Recently, Mango-II, an RNA that binds TO1-Biotin with &sim;1 nM affinity and enhances its fluorescence by &gt;1500-fold, was isolated by fluorescence selection from the pool that yielded the original RNA Mango. We determined the crystal structures of Mango-II in complex with two fluorophores, TO1-Biotin and TO3-Biotin, and found that despite their high affinity, the ligands adopt multiple distinct conformations, indicative of a binding pocket with modest stereoselectivity. Mutational analysis of the binding site led to Mango-II(A22U), which retains high affinity for TO1-Biotin but now discriminates &gt;5-fold against TO3-biotin. Moreover, fluorescence enhancement of TO1-Biotin increases by 18%, while that of TO3-Biotin decreases by 25%. Crystallographic, spectroscopic, and analogue studies show that the A22U mutation improves conformational homogeneity and shape complementarity of the fluorophore-RNA interface. Our work demonstrates that even after extensive functional selection, aptamer RNAs can be further improved through structure-guided engineering.</p>

Coordinates and structure factors for the Mango-II–TO1-Biotin, Mango-II–TO3-Biotin, and Mango-II(A22U)–TO1-Biotin co-crystal structures have been deposited in the Protein Data Bank as entries 6C63, 6C64, and 6C65, respectively.