Charge screening in RNA: an integral route for dynamical enhancements†
Electrostatic interactions of RNA are at the center of determining the dynamical flexibility and structural stability. By analysing neutron scattering spectroscopy, we show that fast dynamics of hydrated tRNA on ps to ns timescales increases with stronger charge screening, while its structural stability either increases or remains largely unchanged. An unprecedented electrostatic threshold for the onset of additional flexibility is induced from the correlation between the charge-screening density of counterions and the promoted dynamical properties. The results demonstrate that the enhanced dynamical flexibility of tRNA originates from local conformational relaxation coupled with stabilized charge screening rather than governed by fluctuation of hydrated counterions. The present study casts light on the specificity of electrostatic interactions in the thermodynamic balance between the dynamical flexibility and structural stability of RNA.