Structural Analysis of ‘key’ Interactions in Functional RNA Molecules
KAUST DepartmentPhysical Sciences and Engineering (PSE) Division
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AbstractThe main objective of the thesis is to carry out structural bioinformatics study along with usage of advanced quantum chemical methods to look at the structural stability and energetics of RNA building blocks. The main focus of the work described here lies on understanding the reasons behind the intrinsic stability of key interactions in nucleic acids. Crystal structures of RNA molecules exhibit fascinating variety of non-covalent interactions, which play an important role in maintaining the three dimensional structures. An accurate atomic level description of these interactions in the structural building blocks of RNA is a key to understand the structure-function relationship in these molecules. An effort has been made to link the conclusions drawn from quantum chemical computations on RNA base pairs in wide biochemical context of their occurrence in RNA structures. The initial attention was on the impact of natural and non-natural modifications of the nucleic acid bases on the structure and stability of base pairs that they are involved in. In the remaining sections we cover other molecular interactions shaping nucleic acids, as the interaction between ribose and the bases, and the fluoride sensing riboswitch system in order to investigate structure and dynamics of nucleic acids at the atomic level and to gain insight into the physical chemistry behind.