Functional binding of hexanucleotides to 3C protease of hepatitis A virus

Bärbel S. Blaum, Winfried Wünsche, Andrew J. Benie, Yuri Kusov, Hannelore Peters, Verena Gauss-Müller, Thomas Peters*, Georg Sczakiel

*Corresponding author for this work
5 Citations (Scopus)


Oligonucleotides as short as 6nt in length have been shown to bind specifically and tightly to proteins and affect their biological function. Yet, sparse structural data are available for corresponding complexes. Employing a recently developed hexanucleotide array, we identified hexadeoxyribonucleotides that bind specifically to the 3C protease of hepatitis A virus (HAV 3C pro). Inhibition assays in vitro identified the hexanucleotide 5′-GGGGGT-3′ (G 5T) as a 3C pro protease inhibitor. Using 1H NMR spectroscopy, G 5T was found to form a G-quadruplex, which might be considered as a minimal aptamer. With the help of 1H, 15N-HSQC experiments the binding site for G 5T was located to the C-terminal β-barrel of HAV 3C pro. Importantly, the highly conserved KFRDI motif, which has previously been identified as putative viral RNA binding site, is not part of the G 5T-binding site, nor does G 5T interfere with the binding of viral RNA. Our findings demonstrate that sequence-specific nucleic acid-protein interactions occur with oligonucleotides as small as hexanucleotides and suggest that these compounds may be of pharmaceutical relevance.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNucleic Acids Research
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)3042-3055
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 01.04.2012


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