Fab chaperone assisted rna crystallography, Glycine riboswitch, allosteric genetic control circuit, rna targeting, minimal amino acid diversity phage display library


The glycine riboswitch is a structured RNA found upstream of genes in mRNA transcripts in many bacteria, functioning as a biofeedback gene regulator. Upon binding glycine, a complete RNA transcript including gene sequences is transcribed, effectively turning on gene expression. In an effort to understand the intricacies of its functioning, many mutants of the riboswitch were made and characterized during Ph. D. work, resulting in discovery of a P0 duplex/kink-turn motif involving a few nucleotides upstream of the established glycine riboswitch sequence which changed its ligand binding characteristics (Chapter 1). Previously, the two aptamers of the riboswitch were thought to cooperatively bind glycine, but with the inclusion of this leader sequence which forms a kink turn motif with the linker between the two aptamers, glycine binding in one aptamer no longer requires glycine binding in the other. Furthermore, the Kd from three species tested are now a similar, lower value of about 5 µM, indicating authenticity of this new consensus sequence. Glycine binding and interaptamer interaction both enhanced one another in trans aptamer assays. Another discovery from this was a shortened construct including all of aptamer II but only part of aptamer I in which a few specific nucleotides prevented glycine binding in aptamer II (Chapter 2). This may provide insight into the nature of interaptamer interactions in the full switch; addition of an oligonucleotide complimentary to these nucleotides restored glycine binding ability to aptamer II. With future development, this could also be a useful molecular biology tool, using two signals, glycine and an oligonucleotide, to allow gene expression. To precisely understand how any macromolecule functions, a 3D structure, obtainable by x-ray crystallography, is vital. A new technique to accomplish that for RNA, precedented in the protein world, is Fab chaperoned crystallography, which has advantages compared to RNA alone. A phage displayed library of Fabs with reduced codon diversity designed for RNA was created, the YSGR Min library (Chapter 3). Its Fabs had specificities and affinities equal to or greater than previous libraries which were originally created for phage displayed selection against proteins. Fab chaperoned RNA crystallography is currently in progress for the glycine riboswitch; the best resolution thus far is 5.3 … (Chapter 4). In addition to providing molecular insight into its gene regulation mechanism, a structure of the glycine riboswitch could be applied for use in structure based drug design of novel antibiotics targeting the riboswitch to disrupt important downstream carbon cycle genes in pathogenic bacteria.


If this is your thesis or dissertation, and want to learn how to access it or for more information about readership statistics, contact us at

Graduation Date





Ye, Jingdong


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Sciences



Degree Program









Release Date

December 2019

Length of Campus-only Access

5 years

Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences; Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic

Included in

Chemistry Commons