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Biochemistry. 2001 Jun 19;40(24):6998-7004.

RNA-catalyzed amino acid activation.

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Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado 80309-0347, USA.


We have selected RNAs that perform a new reaction that chemically activates amino acids, paralleling mixed phosphate anhydride synthesis by protein aminoacyl-transfer RNA synthetases. Care with recovery of the unstable reaction product was apparently essential to this selection. The best characterized RNA, KK13, requires only Ca2+ for reaction and is optimally active at low pH with KM = 50 mM and kcat = 1.1 min(-1) for activation of leucine. In conjunction with previous RNA-catalyzed aminoacyl-RNA synthesis, peptide bond formation, and RNA-based coding, these amino acid-activating RNAs complete an experimental demonstration that the four fundamental reactions of protein biosynthesis can be RNA-mediated. The appearance of translation in an RNA world is therefore supported.

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