Recent advances in transcriptome sequencing and analysis have revealed the complexity of the human genome. The majority (≈ 98%) of cellular transcripts is not translated into proteins and represents a vast, unchartered world of functional non-coding RNAs. Most of them adopt a well-defined three-dimensional structure to achieve their biological functions. However, only very few RNA structures are currently available which reflects the challenges associated with RNA crystallization. Nevertheless, these structures would represent a critical step in understanding functions of non-coding RNAs and their molecular mechanisms in the cell. The overall goal of this study is to develop an innovative and versatile tool to facilitate the functional study and crystallization of structured RNAs (stRNAs). In this work, we have engineered an antibody fragment from camelid heavy-chain antibody (nanobody) able to specifically bind with low nanomolar affinity to stRNA, while no binding could be detected for single-stranded DNA/RNA, double-stranded DNA/RNA or a negatively charged protein. However, this nanobody recognizes different and non-related stRNAs, this observation suggests that it binds to an epitope shared by these stRNAs. Finally, our data also show that the binding of the nanobody does not alter the secondary structure content of the stRNA as well as its unfolding/refolding processes during heat treatment. This work constitutes a successful proof of concept demonstrating that nanobodies can be engineered to recognize RNA-related epitopes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1652-1670
Number of pages19
JournalJ Mol Biol
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2018

    Research areas

  • RNA/protein interactions, antibody fragment engineering, nanobody, non-coding RNAs, structured RNAs

ID: 45491857