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Chem Biol. 2008 Nov 24;15(11):1187-97. doi: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2008.10.004.

Multistep engineering of pyrrolysyl-tRNA synthetase to genetically encode N(epsilon)-(o-azidobenzyloxycarbonyl) lysine for site-specific protein modification.

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  • 1Systems and Structural Biology Center, Yokohama Institute, RIKEN, 1-7-22 Suehiro-cho, Tsurumi, Yokohama 230-0045, Japan.


Pyrrolysyl-tRNA synthetase (PylRS) esterifies pyrrolysine to tRNA(Pyl). In this study, N(epsilon)-(tert-butyloxycarbonyl)-L-lysine (BocLys) and N(epsilon)-allyloxycarbonyl-L-lysine (AlocLys) were esterified to tRNA(Pyl) by PylRS. Crystal structures of a PylRS catalytic fragment complexed with BocLys and an ATP analog and with AlocLys-AMP revealed that PylRS requires an N(epsilon)-carbonyl group bearing a substituent with a certain size. A PylRS(Y384F) mutant obtained by random screening exhibited higher in vitro aminoacylation and in vivo amber suppression activities with BocLys, AlocLys, and pyrrolysine than those of the wild-type PylRS. Furthermore, the structure-based Y306A mutation of PylRS drastically increased the in vitro aminoacylation activity for N(epsilon)-benzyloxycarbonyl-L-lysine (ZLys). A PylRS with both the Y306A and Y384F mutations enabled the large-scale preparation (>10 mg per liter medium) of proteins site-specifically containing N(epsilon)-(o-azidobenzyloxycarbonyl)-L-lysine (AzZLys). The AzZLys-containing protein was labeled with a fluorescent probe, by Staudinger ligation.

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