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Biochemistry. 2001 Sep 18;40(37):11060-4.

Incorporation of nonnatural amino acids into proteins by using various four-base codons in an Escherichia coli in vitro translation system.

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  • 1Department of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Faculty of Engineering, Okayama University, 3-1-1 Tsushimanaka, Okayama 700-8530, Japan.


Incorporation of nonnatural amino acids into proteins is a powerful technique in protein research. Amber suppression has been used to this end, but this strategy does not allow multiple incorporation of nonnatural amino acids into single proteins. In this article, we developed an alternative strategy for nonnatural mutagenesis by using four-base codons. The four-base codons AGGU, CGGU, CCCU, CUCU, CUAU, and GGGU were successfully decoded by the nitrophenylalanyl-tRNA containing the complementary four-base anticodons in an Escherichia coli in vitro translation system. The most efficient four-base decoding was observed for the GGGU codon, which yielded 86% of the full-length protein containing nitrophenylalanine relative to the wild-type protein. Moreover, highly efficient incorporation of two different nonnatural amino acids was achieved by using a set of two four-base codons, CGGG and GGGU. This work shows that the four-base codon strategy is more advantageous than the amber suppression strategy in efficiency and versatility.

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