Realtime Access Map
Sensitive and specific detection of ligands using engineered riboswitches
MetadataShow full item record
Riboswitches are RNA elements found in non-coding regions of messenger RNAs that regulate gene expression through a ligand-triggered conformational change. Riboswitches typically bind tightly and specifically to their ligands, so they have the potential to serve as highly effective sensors in vitro. In B. subtilis and other gram-positive bacteria, purine nucleotide synthesis is regulated by riboswitches that bind to guanine. We modified the xpt-pbuX guanine riboswitch for use in a fluorescence quenching assay that allowed us to specifically detect and quantify guanine in vitro. Using this assay, we reproducibly detected as little as 5 nM guanine. We then produced sensors for 2′-deoxyguanosine and cyclic diguanylate (c-diGMP) by appending the P1 stem of the guanine riboswitch to the ligand-binding domains of a 2′-deoxyguanosine riboswitch and a c-diGMP riboswitch. These hybrid sensors could detect 15 nM 2′-deoxyguanosine and 3 nM c-diGMP, respectively. Each sensor retained the ligand specificity of its corresponding natural riboswitch. In order to extend the utility of our approach, we developed a strategy for the in vitro selection of sensors with novel ligand specificity. Here we report a proof-of-principle experiment that demonstrated the feasibility of our selection strategy.