2009 Student Research Conference:
22nd Annual Student Research Conference

Stabilizing Molecular Orbital Interactions in the Anticodon of Transfer RNA
Elizabeth E. Koballa
Dr. Maria Nagan and Dr. Eric V. Patterson, Faculty Mentors

The accurate recognition of messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) by various transfer RNA (tRNA) molecules is essential to protein synthesis. Precise positioning of the anticodon nitrogenous bases with the cognate mRNA codon is required for correct amino acid incorporation into proteins within the ribosome. This study identifies the molecular orbitals that contribute to the stabilization of the stair-stepped conformation of three tRNA anticodon nitrogenous bases. Structures are obtained from experimentally determined tRNA crystal structures and hydrogen atoms are geometrically optimized. Natural bond orbital analyses are performed on the anticodon structures and significant donor-acceptor molecular orbital interactions are identified in each anticodon structure. Patterns of stabilizing interactions are compared with those from A-standard RNA to establish the interactions contributing to the stair-stepped conformation of the tRNA anticodon. Interaction patterns found in the crystal structures indicate multiple conformation-stabilizing interactions present in the majority of stair-stepped anticodon structures.

Keywords: tRNA, computational, molecular orbital, biochemistry, base stacking, RNA


Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 8-2
Location: VH 1236
Time: 8:30

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