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Nucleic Acids Res. 1997 Dec 15;25(24):4883-90.

Role of acceptor stem conformation in tRNAVal recognition by its cognate synthetase.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, USA.


Although the anticodon is the primary element in Escherichia coli tRNAValfor recognition by valyl-tRNA synthetase (ValRS), nucleotides in the acceptor stem and other parts of the tRNA modulate recognition. Study of the steady state aminoacylation kinetics of acceptor stem mutants of E.coli tRNAValdemonstrates that replacing any base pair in the acceptor helix with another Watson-Crick base pair has little effect on aminoacylation efficiency. The absence of essential recognition nucleotides in the acceptor helix was confirmed by converting E.coli tRNAAlaand yeast tRNAPhe, whose acceptor stem sequences differ significantly from that of tRNAVal, to efficient valine acceptors. This transformation requires, in addition to a valine anticodon, replacement of the G:U base pair in the acceptor stem of these tRNAs. Mutational analysis of tRNAValverifies that G:U base pairs in the acceptor helix act as negative determinants of synthetase recognition. Insertion of G:U in place of the conserved U4:A69 in tRNAValreduces the efficiency of aminoacylation, due largely to an increase in K m. A smaller but significant decline in aminoacylation efficiency occurs when G:U is located at position 3:70; lesser effects are observed for G:U at other positions in the acceptor helix. The negative effects of G:U base pairs are strongly correlated with changes in helix structure in the vicinity of position 4:69 as monitored by19F NMR spectroscopy of 5-fluorouracil-substituted tRNAVal. This suggests that maintaining regular A-type RNA helix geometry in the acceptor stem is important for proper recognition of tRNAValby valyl-tRNA synthetase.19F NMR also shows that formation of the tRNAVal-valyl-tRNA synthetase complex does not disrupt the first base pair in the acceptor stem, a result different from that reported for the tRNAGln-glutaminyl-tRNA synthetase complex.

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