The Kink Turn, a Key Architectural Element in RNA Structure

Lin Huang, David M.J. Lilley (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)
112 Downloads (Pure)


Kink turns (k-turns) are widespread structural elements that introduce an axial bend into duplex RNA with an included angle of 50°. These mediate key tertiary interactions and bind specific proteins including members of the L7Ae family. The standard k-turn comprises a three-nucleotide bulge followed by G·A and A·G pairs. The RNA kinks by an association of the two minor grooves, stabilized by the formation of a number of key cross-strand hydrogen bonds mostly involving the adenine bases of the G·A and A·G pairs. The k-turns may be divided into two conformational classes, depending on the receptor for one of these hydrogen bonds. k-turns become folded by one of three different processes. Some, but not all, k-turns become folded in the presence of metal ions. Whether or not a given k-turn is folded under these conditions is determined by its sequence. We present a set of rules for the prediction of folding properties and the structure adopted on local sequence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)790-801
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Molecular Biology
Issue number5
Early online date29 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - 27 Feb 2016


  • k-turn
  • metal ions
  • RNA folding
  • RNA-protein interaction
  • tertiary interactions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology


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