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Charge Assisted S/Se Chalcogen Bonds in SAM Riboswitches: A Combined PDB and ab Initio Study
ACS Chemical Biology  (IF5.1),  Pub Date : 2021-08-24, DOI: 10.1021/acschembio.1c00417
María de las Nieves Piña, Antonio Frontera, Antonio Bauza

In this study, we provide experimental (Protein Data Bank (PDB) inspection) and theoretical (RI-MP2/def2-TZVP level of theory) evidence of the involvement of charge assisted chalcogen bonding (ChB) interactions in the recognition and folding mechanisms of S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) riboswitches. Concretely, an initial PDB search revealed several examples where ChBs between S-adenosyl methionine (SAM)/adenosyl selenomethionine (EEM) molecules and uracil (U) bases belonging to RNA take place. While these interactions are usually described as a merely Coulombic attraction between the positively charged S/Se group and RNA, theoretical calculations indicated that the σ holes of S and Se are involved. Moreover, computational models shed light on the strength and directionality properties of the interaction, which was also further characterized from a charge-density perspective using Bader’s “Atoms in Molecules” (AIM) theory, Non-Covalent Interaction plot (NCIplot) visual index, and Natural Bonding Orbital (NBO) analyses. As far as our knowledge extends, this is the first time that ChBs in SAM–RNA complexes have been systematically analyzed, and we believe the results might be useful for scientists working in the field of RNA engineering and chemical biology as well as to increase the visibility of the interaction among the biological community.