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J Biol Chem. 1995 Sep 15;270(37):21659-64.

Cloning and functional characterization of human selenophosphate synthetase, an essential component of selenoprotein synthesis.

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  • 1Thyroid Division, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Selenocysteine is co-translationally incorporated into prokaryotic and eukaryotic selenoproteins at in-frame UGA codons. However, the only component of the eukaryotic selenocysteine incorporation machinery identified to date is the selenocysteine-specific tRNA(Sec). In prokaryotes, selenocysteine is synthesized from seryl-tRNA(Sec) and the active selenium donor, selenophosphate. Selenophosphate is synthesized from selenide and ATP by the selD gene product, selenophosphate synthetase, and is required for selenocysteine synthesis and incorporation into bacterial selenoproteins. We have now cloned human selD and shown that transfection of the human selD cDNA into mammalian cells results in increased selenium labeling of a mammalian selenoprotein, type 1 iodothyronine deiodinase. Despite significant differences between the mechanisms of selenoprotein synthesis in prokaryotes and eukaryotes, human selD weakly complements a bacterial selD mutation, partially restoring selenium incorporation into bacterial selenoproteins. Human selenophosphate synthetase has only 32% homology with the bacterial protein, although a highly homologous region that has similarity to a consensus ATP/GTP binding domain has been identified. Point mutations within this region result in decreased incorporation of selenium into type 1 iodothyronine deiodinase in all but one case. Further analysis revealed that reduced selenium labeling was due to altered ATP binding properties of the mutant selenophosphate synthetases.

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