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Nucleic Acids Res. 2003 Aug 15;31(16):4729-37.

A yeast knockout strain to discriminate between active and inactive tRNA molecules.

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  • 1UPR 9002 SMBMR du CNRS, Institut de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire, 15 Rue René Descartes, 67084 Strasbourg, France.


Here we report the construction of a yeast genetic screen designed to identify essential residues in tRNA(Arg). The system consists of a tRNA(Arg) knockout strain and a set of vectors designed to rescue and select for variants of tRNA(Arg). By plasmid shuffling we selected inactive tRNA mutants that were further analyzed by northern blotting. The mutational analysis focused on the tRNA D and anticodon loops that contact the aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase. The anticodon triplet was excluded from the analysis because of its role in decoding the Arg codons. Most of the inactivating mutations are residues involved in tertiary interactions. These mutations had dramatic effects on tRNA(Arg) abundance. Other inactivating mutations were located in the anticodon loop, where they did not affect transcription and aminoacylation but probably altered interaction with the translation machinery. No lethal effects were observed when residues 16, 20 and 38 were individually mutated, despite the fact that they are involved in sequence-specific interactions with the aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase. However, the steady-state levels of the aminoacylated forms of U20A and U20G were decreased by a factor of 3.5-fold in vivo. This suggests that, unlike in the Escherichia coli tRNA(Arg):ArgRS system where residue 20 (A) is a major identity element, in yeast this position is of limited consequence.

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