Structural features of metabolite-sensing riboswitches

Catherine A. Wakeman, Wade C. Winkler, Charles E. Dann

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

51 Scopus citations


Riboswitches, metabolite-sensing RNA elements that are present in untranslated regions of the transcripts that they regulate, possess extensive tertiary structure to couple metabolite binding to genetic control. Here we discuss recently published structures from four riboswitch classes and compare these natural RNA structures to those of in-vitro-selected RNA aptamers, which bind ligands similar to those of the riboswitches. In addition, we examine the glmS riboswitch - the first example of a ribozyme-based riboswitch. This RNA provides the latest twist in the riboswitch field and portends exciting advances in the coming years. Our knowledge of the mechanisms underlying genetic regulation by riboswitches has increased mightily in recent years and will continue to grow as new riboswitch classes and ligands are discovered and structurally characterized.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)415-424
Number of pages10
JournalTrends in Biochemical Sciences
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2007


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