M. Becchi, P. Chiarantoni and C. Micheletti
RNA Pore Translocation with Static and Periodic Forces: Effect of Secondary and Tertiary Elements on Process Activation and Duration
J. Phys. Chem. B, 2021, 125 , 1098-1196
Link to online article
We use MD simulations to study the pore translocation properties of a pseudoknotted viral RNA. We consider the 71-nucleotide-long xrRNA from the Zika virus and establish how it responds when driven through a narrow pore by static or periodic forces applied to either of the two termini. Unlike the case of fluctuating homopolymers, the onset of translocation is significantly delayed with respect to the application of static driving forces. Because of the peculiar xrRNA architecture, activation times can differ by orders of magnitude at the two ends. Instead, translocation duration is much smaller than activation times and occurs on time scales comparable at the two ends. Periodic forces amplify significantly the differences at the two ends, for both activation times and translocation duration. Finally, we use a waiting-times analysis to examine the systematic slowing downs in xrRNA translocations and associate them to the hindrance of specific secondary and tertiary elements of xrRNA. The findings provide a useful reference to interpret and design future theoretical and experimental studies of RNA translocation.