Folding of the Tetrahymena self-splicing RNA into its active conformation involves a set of discrete intermediate states. The Mg2+- dependent equilibrium transition from the intermediates to the native structure is more cooperative than the formation of the intermediates from the unfolded states. We show that the degree of cooperativity is linked to the free energy of each transition and that the rate of the slow transition from the intermediates to the native state decreases exponentially with increasing Mg2+ concentration. Monovalent salts, which stabilize the folded RNA nonspecifically, induce states that fold in less than 30 s after Mg2+ is added to the RNA. A simple model is proposed that predicts the folding kinetics from the Mg2+-dependent change in the relative stabilities of the intermediate and native states.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - May 25 1999|
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