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J Am Chem Soc. 2004 Oct 13;126(40):12758-9.

The pseudouridine synthases: revisiting a mechanism that seemed settled.

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716, USA.


RNA containing 5-fluorouridine, [f 5U]RNA, has been used as a mechanistic probe for the pseudouridine synthases, which convert uridine in RNA to its C-glycoside isomer, pseudouridine. Hydrated products of f 5U were attributed to ester hydrolysis of a covalent complex between an essential aspartic acid residue and f 5U, and the results were construed as strong support for a mechanism involving Michael addition by the aspartic acid residue. Labeling studies with [18O]water are now reported that rule out such ester hydrolysis in one pseudouridine synthase, TruB. The aspartic acid residue does not become labeled, and the hydroxyl group in the hydrated product of f 5U derives directly from solvent. The hydrated product, therefore, cannot be construed to support Michael addition during the conversion of uridine to pseudouridine, but the results do not rule out such a mechanism. A hypothesis is offered for the seemingly disparate behavior of different pseudouridine synthases toward [f 5U]RNA.

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