Effect of zinc ions on tRNA structure. I. Reversed-phase chromatography

J. M. Flanagan, K. Bruce Jacobson

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The effect of zinc on the chromatographic behavior of four tRNAs was examined on RPC-5 and Aminex A-28 columns. RPC-5 contains dichlorodifluoroethylene beads coated with a quaternary ammonium compound where the substituents are: R1 = methyl, and R2-4& z.dbnd; C8-10 hydrocarbons. Aminex A-28 contains quaternary ammonium covalently attached to styrene-divinylbenzene copolymer lattice and R1-3 are methyl groups. The retentions of tRNAVal, tRNAIle, and tRNALys of E. coli and yeast tRNAPhe on RPC-5 were all markedly increased by Zn2+ ions. In contrast, no increased retention due to Zn2+ was observed when tRNAPhe was chromatographed on Aminex A-28. A model for chromatography on RPC-5 is developed which treats the elution behavior of tRNAs from this matrix as the sum of ionexchange and hydrophobic interactions. The chromatography of tRNA in the presence and absence of Zn2+ is interpreted in terms of this model and the effects of sodium chloride concentration, temperature, and pH were explored as the experimental variables. These experiments suggest that in the absence of Zn2+ tRNA does not interact appreciably with the hydrophobic surface of the column. The addition of Zn2+ has three effects on chromatography: (1) a decrease in the number of anionic sites on the tRNA which interact with the positively charged ammonium ion, (2) an increase in affinity of the tRNA for these ionic sites, and (3) an increase in affinity of tRNA for hydrophobic sites on the column. All three effects were fully reversed by the addition of Cd2+ (10 mM) or Mg2+ (35 mM), but only partially reversed at lower concentrations of these competing ions. These results show that chromatography on RCP-5 can be a sensitive physical chemical technique for examination of the structure of tRNA, and probably for other nucleic acids as well.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-154
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Chromatography A
Issue numberC
StatePublished - 1987

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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