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EMBO J. 2002 Feb 15;21(4):760-8.

Binding of tobramycin leads to conformational changes in yeast tRNA(Asp) and inhibition of aminoacylation.

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  • 1UPR 9002 du CNRS, Institut de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire, 15 rue René Descartes, F-67084 Strasbourg Cedex, France.


Aminoglycosides inhibit translation in bacteria by binding to the A site in the ribosome. Here, it is shown that, in yeast, aminoglycosides can also interfere with other processes of translation in vitro. Steady-state aminoacylation kinetics of unmodified yeast tRNA(Asp) transcript indicate that the complex between tRNA(Asp) and tobramycin is a competitive inhibitor of the aspartylation reaction with an inhibition constant (K(I)) of 36 nM. Addition of an excess of heterologous tRNAs did not reverse the charging of tRNA(Asp), indicating a specific inhibition of the aspartylation reaction. Although magnesium ions compete with the inhibitory effect, the formation of the aspartate adenylate in the ATP-PP(i) exchange reaction by aspartyl-tRNA synthetase in the absence of the tRNA is not inhibited. Ultraviolet absorbance melting experiments indicate that tobramycin interacts with and destabilizes the native L-shaped tertiary structure of tRNA(Asp). Fluorescence anisotropy using fluorescein-labelled tobramycin reveals a stoichiometry of one molecule bound to tRNA(Asp) with a K(D) of 267 nM. The results indicate that aminoglycosides are biologically effective when their binding induces a shift in a conformational equilibrium of the RNA.

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