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J Am Chem Soc. 2002 Mar 6;124(9):1836-7.

Adding L-3-(2-Naphthyl)alanine to the genetic code of E. coli.

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Department of Chemistry, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, California 94720, USA.


An unnatural amino acid, L-3-(2-naphthyl)alanine, has been site-specifically incorporated into proteins in Escherichia coli. An orthogonal aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase was evolved that uniquely aminoacylates the unnatural amino acid onto an orthogonal amber suppressor tRNA, which delivers the acylated amino acid in response to an amber nonsense codon with translational fidelity greater than 99%. This result, together with the in vivo site-specific incorporation of O-methyl-L-tyrosine reported previously, demonstrate that this methodology may be applicable to a host of amino acids. The expansion of the genetic code to include amino acids beyond the common 20 would provide an opportunity to better understand and possibly enhance protein (and perhaps organismal) function.

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