Structure-guided aminoacylation and assembly of chimeric RNAs.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


bioRxiv (2024)


<p>Coded ribosomal peptide synthesis could not have evolved unless its sequence and amino acid specific aminoacylated tRNA substrates already existed. We therefore wondered whether aminoacylated RNAs might have served some primordial function prior to their role in protein synthesis. Here we show that specific RNA sequences can be nonenzymatically aminoacylated and ligated to produce amino acid-bridged stem-loop RNAs. We used deep sequencing to identify RNAs that undergo highly efficient glycine aminoacylation followed by loop-closing ligation. The crystal structure of one such glycine-bridged RNA hairpin reveals a compact internally stabilized structure with the same eponymous T-loop architecture found in modern tRNA. We demonstrate that the T-loop assisted amino acid bridging of RNA oligonucleotides enables the rapid template-free assembly of a chimeric version of an aminoacyl-RNA synthetase ribozyme. We suggest that the primordial assembly of such chimeric ribozymes would have allowed the greater functionality of amino acids to contribute to enhanced ribozyme catalysis, providing a driving force for the evolution of sequence and amino acid specific aminoacyl-RNA synthetase enzymes prior to their role in protein synthesis.</p>