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Biochemistry. 2000 Mar 28;39(12):3216-30.

Thermus thermophilus contains an eubacterial and an archaebacterial aspartyl-tRNA synthetase.

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Unité Propre de Recherche 9002, Structure des Macromolécules Biologiques et Mécanismes de Reconnaissance, Institut de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire du CNRS, 15, Rue René Descartes, 67084, Strasbourg Cedex, France.


Thermus thermophilus possesses two aspartyl-tRNA synthetases (AspRSs), AspRS1 and AspRS2, encoded by distinct genes. Alignment of the protein sequences with AspRSs of other origins reveals that AspRS1 possesses the structural features of eubacterial AspRSs, whereas AspRS2 is structurally related to the archaebacterial AspRSs. The structural dissimilarity between the two thermophilic AspRSs is correlated with functional divergences. AspRS1 aspartylates tRNA(Asp) whereas AspRS2 aspartylates tRNA(Asp), and tRNA(Asn) with similar efficiencies. Since Asp bound on tRNA(Asn) is converted into Asn by a tRNA-dependent aspartate amidotransferase, AspRS2 is involved in Asn-tRNA(Asn) formation. These properties relate functionally AspRS2 to archaebacterial AspRSs. The structural basis of the dual specificity of T. thermophilus tRNA(Asn) was investigated by comparing its sequence with those of tRNA(Asp) and tRNA(Asn) of strict specificity. It is shown that the thermophilic tRNA(Asn) contains the elements defining asparagine identity in Escherichia coli, part of which being also the major elements of aspartate identity, whereas minor elements of this identity are missing. The structural context that permits expression of aspartate and asparagine identities by tRNA(Asn) and how AspRS2 accommodates tRNA(Asp) and tRNA(Asn) will be discussed. This work establishes a distinct structure-function relationship of eubacterial and archaebacterial AspRSs. The structural and functional properties of the two thermophilic AspRSs will be discussed in the context of the modern and primitive pathways of tRNA aspartylation and asparaginylation and related to the phylogenetic connexion of T. thermophilus to eubacteria and archaebacteria.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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