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J Mol Biol. 2007 Dec 7;374(4):1077-90. Epub 2007 Oct 11.

Molecular determinants of the yeast Arc1p-aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase complex assembly.

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Laboratory of Biochemistry, Department of Medicine, University of Thessaly, 22 Papakyriazi Street, Larissa 41222, Greece.


Eukaryotic aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases are usually organized into high-molecular-weight complexes, the structure and function of which are poorly understood. We have previously described a yeast complex containing two aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases, methionyl-tRNA synthetase and glutamyl-tRNA synthetase, and one noncatalytic protein, Arc1p, which can stimulate the catalytic efficiency of the two synthetases. To understand the complex assembly mechanism and its relevance to the function of its components, we have generated specific mutations in residues predicted by a recent structural model to be located at the interaction interfaces of the N-terminal domains of all three proteins. Recombinant wild-type or mutant forms of the proteins, as well as the isolated N-terminal domains of the two synthetases, were overexpressed in bacteria, purified and used for complex formation in vitro and for determination of binding affinities using surface plasmon resonance. Moreover, mutant proteins were expressed as PtA or green fluorescent protein fusion polypeptides in yeast strains lacking the endogenous proteins in order to monitor in vivo complex assembly and their subcellular localization. Our results show that the assembly of the Arc1p-synthetase complex is mediated exclusively by the N-terminal domains of the synthetases and that the two enzymes bind to largely independent sites on Arc1p. Analysis of single-amino-acid substitutions identified residues that are directly involved in the formation of the complex in yeast cells and suggested that complex assembly is mediated predominantly by van der Waals and hydrophobic interactions, rather than by electrostatic forces. Furthermore, mutations that abolish the interaction of methionyl-tRNA synthetase with Arc1p cause entry of the enzyme into the nucleus, proving that complex association regulates its subcellular distribution. The relevance of these findings to the evolution and function of the multienzyme complexes of eukaryotic aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases is discussed.

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