Visualizing the physical basis for molecular behaviour inside living cells is a great challenge for biology. RNAs are central to biological regulation, and the ability of RNA to adopt specific structures intimately controls every step of the gene expression program. However, our understanding of physiological RNA structures is limited; current in vivo RNA structure profiles include only two of the four nucleotides that make up RNA. Here we present a novel biochemical approach, in vivo click selective 2'-hydroxyl acylation and profiling experiment (icSHAPE), which enables the first global view, to our knowledge, of RNA secondary structures in living cells for all four bases. icSHAPE of the mouse embryonic stem cell transcriptome versus purified RNA folded in vitro shows that the structural dynamics of RNA in the cellular environment distinguish different classes of RNAs and regulatory elements. Structural signatures at translational start sites and ribosome pause sites are conserved from in vitro conditions, suggesting that these RNA elements are programmed by sequence. In contrast, focal structural rearrangements in vivo reveal precise interfaces of RNA with RNA-binding proteins or RNA-modification sites that are consistent with atomic-resolution structural data. Such dynamic structural footprints enable accurate prediction of RNA-protein interactions and N(6)-methyladenosine (m(6)A) modification genome wide. These results open the door for structural genomics of RNA in living cells and reveal key physiological structures controlling gene expression.
View details for DOI 10.1038/nature14263
View details for PubMedID 25799993