Four steps for revealing and adjusting the 3D structure of aptamers in solution by small-angle X-ray scattering and computer simulation

Tomilin, Felix N.; Moryachkov, Roman; Shchugoreva, Irina; Zabluda, Vladimir N.; Peters, Georgy; Platunov, Mikhail; Spiridonova, Vera; Melnichuk, Anastasia; Atrokhova, Anastasia; Zamay, Sergey S.; Ovchinnikov, Sergey G.; Zamay, Galina S.; Sokolov, Alexey; Zamay, Tatiana N.; Berezovski, Maxim, V; Kichkailo, Anna S. Source: ANALYTICAL AND BIOANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY, 411 (25):6723-6732; SI 10.1007/s00216-019-02045-0 OCT 2019

Nucleic acid (NA) aptamers bind to their targets with high affinity and selectivity. The three-dimensional (3D) structures of aptamers play a major role in these non-covalent interactions. Here, we use a four-step approach to determine a true 3D structure of aptamers in solution using small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and molecular structure restoration (MSR). The approach consists of (i) acquiring SAXS experimental data of an aptamer in solution, (ii) building a spatial distribution of the molecule’s electron density using SAXS results, (iii) constructing a 3D model of the aptamer from its nucleotide primary sequence and secondary structure, and (iv) comparing and refining the modeled 3D structures with the experimental SAXS model. In the proof-of-principle we analyzed the 3D structure of RE31 aptamer to thrombin in a native free state at different temperatures and validated it by circular dichroism (CD). The resulting 3D structure of RE31 has the most energetically favorable conformation and the same elements such as a B-form duplex, non-complementary region, and two G-quartets which were previously reported by X-ray diffraction (XRD) from a single crystal. More broadly, this study demonstrates the complementary approach for constructing and adjusting the 3D structures of aptamers, DNAzymes, and ribozymes in solution, and could supply new opportunities for developing functional nucleic acids.