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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Jan 6;106(1):50-4. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0809211106. Epub 2008 Dec 22.

Slow peptide bond formation by proline and other N-alkylamino acids in translation.

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  • 1Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Uppsala University, BMC, Box 596, 751 24 Uppsala, Sweden.

Abstract

Proteins are made from 19 aa and, curiously, one N-alkylamino acid ("imino acid"), proline (Pro). Pro is thought to be incorporated by the translation apparatus at the same rate as the 19 aa, even though the alkyl group in Pro resides directly on the nitrogen nucleophile involved in peptide bond formation. Here, by combining quench-flow kinetics and charging of tRNAs with cognate and noncognate amino acids, we find that Pro incorporates in translation significantly more slowly than Phe or Ala and that other N-alkylamino acids incorporate much more slowly. Our results show that the slowest step in incorporation of N-alkylamino acids is accommodation/peptidyl transfer after GTP hydrolysis on EF-Tu. The relative incorporation rates correlate with expectations from organic chemistry, suggesting that amino acid sterics and basicities affect translation rates at the peptidyl transfer step. Cognate isoacceptor tRNAs speed Pro incorporation to rates compatible with in vivo, although still 3-6 times slower than Phe incorporation from Phe-tRNA(Phe) depending on the Pro codon. Results suggest that Pro is the only N-alkylamino acid in the genetic code because it has a privileged cyclic structure that is more reactive than other N-alkylamino acids. Our data on the variation of the rate of incorporation of Pro from native Pro-tRNA(Pro) isoacceptors at 4 different Pro codons help explain codon bias not accounted for by the "tRNA abundance" hypothesis.

PMID:
19104062
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2629218
Free PMC Article
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