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Nucleic Acids Res. 1996 Jul 15;24(14):2648-51.

Asn-tRNA in Lactobacillus bulgaricus is formed by asparaginylation of tRNA and not by transamidation of Asp-tRNA.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520-8114, USA.


In many organisms (e.g., gram-positive eubacteria) Gin-tRNA is not formed by direct glutaminylation of tRNAGln but by a specific transamidation of Glu-tRNAGln. We wondered whether a similar transamidation pathway also operates in the formation of Asn-tRNA in these organisms. Therefore we tested in S-100 preparations of Lactobacillus bulgaricus, a gram-positive eubacterium, for the conversion by an amidotransferase of [14C]Asp-tRNA to [14C]Asn-tRNA. As no transamidation was observed, we searched for genes for asparaginyl-tRNA synthetase (AsnRS). Two DNA fragments (from different locations of the L.bulgaricus chromosome) were found each containing an ORF whose sequence resembled that of the Escherichia coli asnS gene. The derived amino acid sequences of the two ORFs (432 amino acids) were the same and 41% identical with E.coli AsnRS. When one of the ORFs was expressed in E.coli, it complemented the temperature sensitivity of an E.coli asnS mutant. S-100 preparations of this transformant showed increased charging of unfractionated L.bulgaricus tRNA with asparagine. Deletion of the 3'-terminal region of the L.bulgaricus AsnRS gene led to loss of its complementation and aminoacylation properties. This indicates that L.bulgaricus contains a functional AsnRS. Thus, the transamidation pathway operates only for Gin-tRNAGln formation in this organism, and possibly in all gram-positive eubacteria.

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