B12 cofactors directly stabilize an mRNA regulatory switch
Structures of riboswitch receptor domains bound to their effector have shown how messenger RNAs recognize diverse small molecules, but mechanistic details linking the structures to the regulation of gene expression remain elusive. To address this, here we solve crystal structures of two different classes of cobalamin (vitamin B12)-binding riboswitches that include the structural switch of the downstream regulatory domain. These classes share a common cobalamin-binding core, but use distinct peripheral extensions to recognize different B12 derivatives. In each case, recognition is accomplished through shape complementarity between the RNA and cobalamin, with relatively few hydrogen bonding interactions that typically govern RNAsmall molecule recognition. We show that a composite cobalaminRNA scaffold stabilizes an unusual long-range intramolecular kissing-loop interaction that controls mRNA expression. This is the first, to our knowledge, riboswitch crystal structure detailing how the receptor and regulatory domains communicate in a ligand-dependent fashion to regulate mRNA expression.