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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Sep 22;106(38):16209-14. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0907602106. Epub 2009 Sep 9.

Biogenesis of glutaminyl-mt tRNAGln in human mitochondria.

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Department of Chemistry and Biotechnology, Graduate School of Engineering, University of Tokyo, Building 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8656, Japan.


Mammalian mitochondrial (mt) tRNAs, which are required for mitochondrial protein synthesis, are all encoded in the mitochondrial genome, while mt aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (aaRSs) are encoded in the nuclear genome. However, no mitochondrial homolog of glutaminyl-tRNA synthetase (GlnRS) has been identified in mammalian genomes, implying that Gln-tRNA(Gln) is synthesized via an indirect pathway in the mammalian mitochondria. We demonstrate here that human mt glutamyl-tRNA synthetase (mtGluRS) efficiently misaminoacylates mt tRNA(Gln) to form Glu-tRNA(Gln). In addition, we have identified a human homolog of the Glu-tRNA(Gln) amidotransferase, the hGatCAB heterotrimer. When any of the hGatCAB subunits were inactivated by siRNA-mediated knock down in human cells, the Glu-charged form of tRNA(Gln) accumulated and defects in respiration could be observed. We successfully reconstituted in vitro Gln-tRNA(Gln) formation catalyzed by the recombinant mtGluRS and hGatCAB. The misaminoacylated form of tRNA(Gln) has a weak binding affinity to the mt elongation factor Tu (mtEF-Tu), indicating that the misaminoacylated form of tRNA(Gln) is rejected from the translational apparatus to maintain the accuracy of mitochondrial protein synthesis.

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