RNA structure inference through chemical mapping after accidental or intentional mutations [Biochemistry]
Despite the critical roles RNA structures play in regulating gene expression, sequencing-based methods for experimentally determining RNA base pairs have remained inaccurate. Here, we describe a multidimensional chemical-mapping method called “mutate-and-map read out through next-generation sequencing” (M2-seq) that takes advantage of sparsely mutated nucleotides to induce structural perturbations at partner nucleotides and then detects these events through dimethyl sulfate (DMS) probing and mutational profiling. In special cases, fortuitous errors introduced during DNA template preparation and RNA transcription are sufficient to give M2-seq helix signatures; these signals were previously overlooked or mistaken for correlated double-DMS events. When mutations are enhanced through error-prone PCR, in vitro M2-seq experimentally resolves 33 of 68 helices in diverse structured RNAs including ribozyme domains, riboswitch aptamers, and viral RNA domains with a single false positive. These inferences do not require energy minimization algorithms and can be made by either direct visual inspection or by a neural-network–inspired algorithm called M2-net. Measurements on the P4–P6 domain of the Tetrahymena group I ribozyme embedded in Xenopus egg extract demonstrate the ability of M2-seq to detect RNA helices in a complex biological environment.
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