Glyoxals as in vivo RNA structural probes of guanine base-pairing

David Mitchell, Laura E. Ritchey, Hongmarn Park, Paul Babitzke, Sarah M. Assmann, Philip C. Bevilacqua

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Elucidation of the folded structures that RNA forms in vivo is vital to understanding its functions. Chemical reagents that modify the Watson–Crick (WC) face of unprotected nucleobases are particularly useful in structure elucidation. Dimethyl sulfate penetrates cell membranes and informs on RNA base-pairing and secondary structure but only modifies the WC face of adenines and cytosines. We present glyoxal, methylglyoxal, and phenylglyoxal as potent in vivo reagents that target the WC face of guanines as well as cytosines and adenines. Tests on rice (Oryza sativa) 5.8S rRNA in vitro read out by reverse transcription and gel electrophoresis demonstrate specific modification of almost all guanines in a time- and pH-dependent manner. Subsequent in vivo tests on rice, a eukaryote, and Bacillus subtilis and Escherichia coli, Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, respectively, showed that all three reagents enter living cells without prior membrane permeabilization or pH adjustment of the surrounding media and specifically modify solvent-exposed guanine, cytosine, and adenine residues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)114-124
Number of pages11
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Glyoxals as in vivo RNA structural probes of guanine base-pairing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this