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Eur J Biochem. 1986 Dec 15;161(3):723-6.

Tetracycline can inhibit tRNA binding to the ribosomal P site as well as to the A site.

Abstract

A and P sites of Escherichia coli ribosomes were titrated with AcPhe-tRNAPhe, in the absence or presence of tetracycline. The P-site location of the bound AcPhe-tRNA was assessed by means of a quantitative puromycin reaction. The results demonstrate that, in agreement with the generally held view, tetracycline exclusively inhibits the A-site binding, if the statistical number of bound acyl-tRNA molecules per ribosome does not exceed about 0.5. However, above this value the P site becomes sensitive to tetracycline as well. It follows that the tightly coupled 70S ribosomes used in functional studies appear to be functionally heterogeneous, i.e. those P sites which cannot be affected by tetracycline are preferentially occupied by AcPhe-tRNA, whereas higher concentrations of this tRNA species are required to fill tetracycline-sensitive P sites. Furthermore, the results imply that under tRNA saturation conditions the tetracycline inhibition cannot be used as an indicator for the site location of bound tRNA.

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