Myotonic Dystrophy 1 (DM1) is a genetic disease caused by expansion of CTG repeats in DNA. 11 UU RNA internal loops, revealing that 11 UU 179411-94-0 supplier base pairs are dynamic and strongly prefer the conformation. Two 2D PMF surfaces were calculated for the 11 UU base pairs, revealing several local minima and three ? transformation pathways. Although at room temperature the ? transformation is not observed on the MD time scale, one of these pathways dominates the dynamics of the 11 UU base pairs in temperature jump MD simulations. This mechanism has now been treated successfully using the DPS approach. Our results suggest that local minima predicted by umbrella sampling calculations could be stabilized by small molecules, which is of great interest for future drug design. Furthermore, distorted GC/CG conformations may be important in understanding how MBNL1 binds to RNA CUG repeats. Hence we provide new insight into the dynamic roles of RNA loops and their contributions to presently incurable diseases. Introduction Repeat expansion disorders are caused by mutations in DNA where repeats in certain genes become expanded. Once the repeats are transcribed, mRNA (mRNA) folds into a hairpin with repeating internal loop motifs, which can be translated into toxic proteins or sequester proteins and cause disease.1,2 The 179411-94-0 supplier mechanisms by which these repeats 179411-94-0 supplier expand are not fully known. One hypothesis is that formation of non-B-form conformations by the repetitive DNA sequences, such as hairpins, is the reason for the expansion during DNA replication and repair.3?5 In the expansions of CAG repeats, which are typically found in the coding regions of mRNAs such as Huntingtin (HTT), androgen receptor (AR), spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA), and atrophin-1 (ATN1) genes, the transcripts are translated into toxic polyglutamine (polyQ)6 proteins, resulting in Huntingtons disease (HD), Spinal and Bulbar Muscular Atrophy (SBMA), Spinocerebellar Ataxia Type 1 (SCA1), and Dentatorubral-pallidoluysian atrophy (DRPLA), respectively.7?12 Furthermore, it has been shown recently that RNA CAG repeat expansions can sequester proteins and contribute to neurodegeneration.13?15 Another genetic disorder, Friedreichs ataxia (FRDA), is caused by expansion of GAA repeats.9,16 A common heritable form of mental retardation, Fragile X-associated tremor ataxia syndrome (FXTAS), is caused by expansion of the CGG segment from 50 to 200 repeats in the 5-untranslated region (UTR) of the fragile X mental retardation 1 (FMR1) gene.7,16?23 Once the FMR1 gene is transcribed into mRNA, the expanded CGG repeats fold into a hairpin structure with repeating 11 GG internal loops that sequester and inactivate Sam68 protein. Myotonic dystrophy (DM) is another genetic disease that is 179411-94-0 supplier the most common adult-onset form of muscular dystrophy. DM is a neuromuscular disorder that is characterized by muscle weakness and slow relaxation of muscles after contraction.7,24 It is caused by expansion of CTG and CCTG repeats in DNA,7,24 with CTG leading to myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1) and CCTG to type 2 (DM2). In both DM1 and DM2, once the trinucleotide CTG in the 3-UTR of the dystrophia myotonica protein kinase (conformations, large amplitude motions in RNA internal loops could not be investigated with the current Rabbit polyclonal to Complement C3 beta chain experimental methods. The conformations that RNA CUG repeats adopt upon protein or small molecule binding require a better understanding of these motions. Helical stacking ? unstacking and ? transformation of uridines in 11 UU base pairs are two such important large scale motions that have significance in small moleculeCRNA binding. Various groups have designed and published small molecules and ligands targeting RNA CUG repeats,41?46 but at present there is no experimental structure available that reports the atomistic details of a small molecule bound to RNA CUG repeats. Thus, the structural and thermodynamic properties of 11 UU base pairs in RNA CUG repeats are of significant interest, since they may provide insight into the conformations that these repeats adopt upon interaction with proteins or small molecules.42,47 We recently analyzed the properties of 11 AA internal loops seen in RNA CAG repeat expansions. The crystal structure of a model RNA with three CAG repeats, r[5UUGGGC(CAG)3GUCC]2, was found to exhibit terminal 11 AA base pairs in conformations with the middle 11 AA base pair conformational state. The results basically indicated that a dynamic base pair such as 11 AA internal 179411-94-0 supplier loops could transform to another conformation upon interacting with a molecule. Thus, we utilized umbrella sampling MD simulations to predict.