Marchanka, A. et al. Nat. Commun. 6, 7024 (2015).

RNAs can be tough to crystallize owing to their conformational flexibility, and large RNA complexes are difficult to study by standard solution nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. Marchanka et al. show that RNA structure can be successfully characterized at high resolution by solid-state NMR (ssNMR) spectroscopy. Although methods for proteins are fairly well established, a challenge particular to RNAs arises from poor chemical-shift dispersion of ribose NMR resonances, which makes resonance assignment difficult. The authors developed a nucleotide labeling scheme for resolving spectral overlap and describe an experimental ssNMR protocol for structure determination. They solved the structure of the 26-mer C/D RNA from Pyrococcus furiosus in complex with the protein L7Ae; the method should be particularly useful for solving intractable ribonucleoprotein complex structures.