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Chem Biol. 2004 Sep;11(9):1317-24.

Reactivity and chemical synthesis of L-pyrrolysine- the 22(nd) genetically encoded amino acid.

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Department of Biochemistry, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.


L-pyrrolysine, the 22(nd) genetically encoded amino acid, was previously deduced to be (4R, 5R)-4-substituted-pyrroline-5-carboxylate attached to the epsilon-nitrogen of lysine based on the crystal structure of the M. barkeri monomethylamine methyltransferase (MtmB). To confirm L-pyrrolysine's identity, structures of MtmB have been determined following treatment with hydroxylamine, N-methylhydroxylamine, or dithionite. Analysis of these structures has provided additional support for the presence of the pyrroline ring and, together with previous mass spectroscopy data, has led us to assign the C(4)-substituent to a methyl group. Based on this assignment, synthetic L-pyrrolysine was prepared by chemical methods. Detailed study of this chemically synthesized L-pyrrolysine has allowed us to characterize its physical properties, to study its chemical stability, and to elucidate the role of its C(4) substituent. Future applications of this synthetic L-pyrrolysine include its in vivo incorporation into recombinant proteins.

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