High Resolution NMR Investigation of Nucleic Acid Structures

  • D. R. Kearns
Part of the NATO Advanced Study Institutes Series book series (NSSB, volume 22)


During the past 10–15 years high resolution NMR has been widely used to investigate the structure of proteins in solution. Surprisingly, the use of this powerful technique in the investigation of polynucleotide structures is of much more recent origin [1–3]. Part of the delay is due to the fact that early attempts to use NMR in the study of high molecular weight (say 30,000) DNA and RNA samples were quite disappointing. The other problem arises from the fact that so many resonances are located in the same spectral regions that very high resolution spectrometers are required. The development of the 220 MHz and especially the 300 MHz spectrometers has helped to overcome some of these problems. The other breakthrough was the discovery by Kearns and Shulman of a set of especially downfield shifted resonances arising from the presence of Watson-Crick base pairs in double helices of RNA [4, 5]. These studies laid the ground work for using NMR to obtain structural information about RNA and DNA molecules in solution that cannot presently be obtained by any other technique. Before discussing the way in which NMR is used in these structural studies, I first want to briefly comment on some of the important roles which the various polynucleotides play in biochemical processes.


tRNA Molecule Nucleic Acid Structure Paramagnetic Rare Earth Helix Radius Terminal Base Pair 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. R. Kearns
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CaliforniaRiversideUSA

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