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Permanent dipole moment of transfer rna and variation of their structure in solution


, : Permanent dipole moment of transfer rna and variation of their structure in solution. Biophysical Journal 58(2): 403-412

The structure of six different tRNA molecules has been analyzed in solution by electrooptical measurements and by bead model simulations. The electric dichroism measured as a function of the field strength shows that tRNA's are associated with substantial permanent dipole moments, which are in the range of 1 .cntdot. 10-27 cm(.tbd. 300 D; before correction for the internal directing field). Rotational diffusion time constants of tRNA molecules in their native state at 2.degree.C show a considerable variation. A particularly large value found for tRNATyr (50 ns) can be explained by its nine additional nucleotide residues. However, remarkable variations remain for tRNA molecules with the standard number of 76 nucleotide residues (tRNAPhe [yeast] 41.6 ns, tRNAVal [Escherichia coli] 44.9 ns, tRNAGlu [E. coli] 46.8 ns; tRNAPhe [E. coli] 48.3 ns). These variations indicate modulations of the tertiary structure, which may be due to a change of the L-hinge angle. Bead models are used to simulate both electric and hydrodynamic parameters of tRNA molecules according to the crystal structure of tRNAPhe (yeast). The asymmetric distribution of phosphate charges with respect to the center of diffusion leads, under the assumption of a constant charge reduction to 15% by ion condensation, to a theoretical dipole moment of 7.2 .cntdot. 10-28 cm, which is in reasonable agreement with the measurements. The dichroism decay curve calculated for tRNAPhe (yeast) is also consistent with the measurements and thus the structure in solution and in the crystal must be very similar in this case. However, our measurements also indicate that the structure of some other tRNA's in solution is different, even in cases with the same number of nucleotide residues.

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