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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Sep 3;99(18):11658-63. Epub 2002 Aug 16.

Evidence against stabilization of the transition state oxyanion by a pKa-perturbed RNA base in the peptidyl transferase center.

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Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University, 260 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, CT 06520-8114, USA.


The crystal structure of the ribosomal 50S subunit from Haloarcula marismortui in complex with the transition state analog CCdA-phosphate-puromycin (CCdApPmn) led to a mechanistic proposal wherein the universally conversed A2451 in the ribosomal active site acts as an "oxyanion hole" to promote the peptidyl transferase reaction [Nissen, P., Hansen, J., Ban, N., Moore, P.B., and Steitz, T.A. (2000) Science 289, 920-929]. In the model, close proximity (3 A) between the A2451 N3 and the nonbridging phosphoramidate oxygen of CCdApPmn suggested that the carbonyl oxyanion formed during the tetrahedral transition state is stabilized by hydrogen bonding to the protonated A2451 N3, the pKa of which must be perturbed substantially. We characterize the contribution of the putative hydrogen bond between the N3 of A2451 and the nonbridging phosphoramidate oxygen by using chemical protection and peptidyl transfer inhibition assays. If this putative hydrogen bond makes a significant thermodynamic contribution, then CCdApPmn-binding affinity to the 50S ribosomal subunit should be strongly pH-dependent, with affinity increasing as the pH is lowered. We report that CCdApPmn binds 50S ribosomes with essentially equal affinity at all pH values between 5.0 and 8.5. These data argue against a mechanism for peptidyl transfer in which a residue with near neutral pKa stabilizes the transition-state oxyanion, at least to the extent that CCdApPmn accurately mimics the transition state.

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