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Biochemistry. 2003 Sep 16;42(36):10697-708.

Prokaryotic and eukaryotic tetrameric phenylalanyl-tRNA synthetases display conservation of the binding mode of the tRNA(Phe) CCA end.

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  • 1Novosibirsk Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry, 630090 Novosibirsk, Russia.


The interaction of human phenylalanyl-tRNA synthetase, a eukaryotic prototype with an unknown three-dimensional structure, with the tRNA(Phe) acceptor end was studied by s(4)U-induced affinity cross-linking with human tRNA(Phe) derivatives site-specifically substituted at the single-stranded 3' end. Two different subunits of the enzyme bind two adjacent nucleotides of the tRNA(Phe) 3' end: nucleotide 76 is associated with the catalytic alpha subunit, while nucleotide 75 is in contact with the beta subunit. The binding mode is similar to that revealed previously in structural and affinity cross-linking studies of the prokaryotic Thermus thermophilus phenylalanyl-tRNA synthetase. Our results suggest that the distinctive features of tRNA(Phe) acceptor end binding are conserved for the eukaryotic and prokaryotic tetrameric phenylalanyl-tRNA synthetases despite their significant differences in the domain composition of the beta subunits. The data from affinity cross-linking experiments with human phenylalanyl-tRNA synthetase complexed with small ligands (ATP and/or phenylalanine or a stable synthetic analogue of phenylalanyl adenylate) reveal that the location of the tRNA(Phe) acceptor end varies with the presence and nature of other substrates. The lack of substrate activity of human tRNA(Phe) substituted with s(4)U at the 3'-terminal position suggests that base-specific interactions of the terminal adenosine are critically important for a productive interaction. The conformational rearrangement of the tRNA 3' end induced by the other substrates and dictated by base-specific contacts of the terminal nucleotide is an additional means of ensuring the phenylalanylation specificity in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic systems.

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