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Biochemistry. 1994 Jun 28;33(25):7869-76.

The role of posttranscriptional modification in stabilization of transfer RNA from hyperthermophiles.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Utah, Salt Lake City 84112.


The influence of posttranscriptional modification on structural stabilization of tRNA from hyperthermophilic archaea was studied, using Pyrococcus furiosus (growth optimum 100 degrees C) as a primary model. Optical melting temperatures (Tm) of unfractionated tRNA in 20 mM Mg2+ are 97 degrees C for P. furiosus and 101.5 degrees C for Pyrodictium occultum (growth optimum, 105 degrees C). These values are approximately 20 degrees C higher than predicted solely from G-C content and are attributed primarily to posttranscriptional modification. Twenty-three modified nucleosides were determined in total digests of P. furiosus tRNA by combined HPLC-mass spectrometry. From cells cultured at 70, 85, and 100 degrees C, progressively increased levels of modification were observed within three families of nucleosides, the most highly modified forms of which were N4-acetyl-2'-O-methylcytidine (ac4Cm), N2,N2,2'-O-trimethylguanosine (m2(2)Gm), and 5-methyl-2-thiouridine (m5s2U). Nucleosides ac4Cm and m2(2)Gm, which are unique to the archaeal hyperthermophiles, were shown in earlier NMR studies to exhibit unusually high conformational stabilities that favor the C3'-endo form [Kawai, G., et al. (1991) Nucleic Acids Symp. Ser. 21, 49-50; (1992) Nucleosides Nucleotides 11, 759-771]. The sequence location of m5s2U was determined by mass spectrometry to be primarily at tRNA position 54, a site of known thermal stabilization in the bacterial thermophile Thermus thermophilus [Horie, N., et al. (1985) Biochemistry 24, 5711-5715]. It is concluded that selected posttranscriptional modifications in archaeal thermophiles play major stabilizing roles beyond the effects of Mg2+ binding and G-C content, and are proportionally more important and have evolved with greater structural diversity at the nucleoside level in the bacterial thermophiles.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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