NMR methods for studying the structure and dynamics of RNA

Michael P. Latham, Darin J. Brown, Scott A. McCallum, Arthur Pardi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

140 Scopus citations


Proper functioning of RNAs requires the formation of complex three-dimensional structures combined with the ability to rapidly interconvert between multiple functional states. This review covers recent advances in isotope-labeling strategies and NMR experimental approaches that have promise for facilitating solution structure determinations and dynamics studies of biologically active RNAs. Improved methods for the production of isotopically labeled RNAs combined with new multidimensional heteronuclear NMR experiments make it possible to dramatically reduce spectral crowding and simplify resonance assignments for RNAs. Several novel applications of experiments that directly detect hydrogen-bonding interactions are discussed. These studies demonstrate how NMR spectroscopy can be used to distinguish between possible secondary structures and identify mechanisms of ligand binding in RNAs. A variety of recently developed methods for measuring base and sugar residual dipolar couplings are described. NMR residual dipolar coupling techniques provide valuable data for determining the long-range structure and orientation of helical regions in RNAs. A number of studies are also presented where residual dipolar coupling constraints are used to determine the global structure and dynamics of RNAs, NMR relaxation data can be used to probe the dynamics of macromolecules in solution. The power dependence of transverse rotating-frame relaxation rates was used here to study dynamics in the minimal hammerhead ribozyme. Improved methods for isotopically labeling RNAs combined with new types of structural data obtained from a growing repertoire of NMR experiments are facilitating structural and dynamic studies of larger RNAs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1492-1505
Number of pages14
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Conformational dynamics
  • Isotopic labeling
  • NMR spectroscopy
  • RNA structures
  • Ribozymes


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