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J Biol Chem. 2008 Aug 8;283(32):21997-2006. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M801838200. Epub 2008 Jun 17.

The homotetrameric phosphoseryl-tRNA synthetase from Methanosarcina mazei exhibits half-of-the-sites activity.

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Interdepartmental Program in Biomolecular Science and Engineering, University of California, Santa Barbara, California 93106-9510, USA.


Synthesis of cysteinyl-tRNA(Cys) in methanogenic archaea proceeds by a two-step pathway in which tRNA(Cys) is first aminoacylated with phosphoserine by phosphoseryl-tRNA synthetase (SepRS). Characterization of SepRS from the mesophile Methanosarcina mazei by gel filtration and nondenaturing mass spectrometry shows that the native enzyme exists as an alpha4 tetramer when expressed at high levels in Escherichia coli. However, active site titrations monitored by ATP/PP(i) burst kinetics, together with analysis of tRNA binding stoichiometry by fluorescence spectroscopy, show that the tetrameric enzyme binds two tRNAs and that only two of the four chemically equivalent subunits catalyze formation of phosphoseryl adenylate. Therefore, the phenomenon of half-of-the-sites activity, previously described for synthesis of 1 mol of tyrosyl adenylate by the dimeric class I tyrosyl-tRNA synthetase, operates as well in this homotetrameric class II tRNA synthetase. Analysis of cognate and noncognate reactions by ATP/PP(i) and aminoacylation kinetics strongly suggests that SepRS is able to discriminate against the noncognate amino acids glutamate, serine, and phosphothreonine without the need for a separate hydrolytic editing site. tRNA(Cys) binding to SepRS also enhances the capacity of the enzyme to discriminate among amino acids, indicating the existence of functional connectivity between the tRNA and amino acid binding sites of the enzyme.

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