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Mol Cell Biol. 1996 Mar;16(3):907-13.

Amber suppression in mammalian cells dependent upon expression of an Escherichia coli aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase gene.

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Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge 02139, USA.


As an approach to inducible suppression of nonsense mutations in mammalian and in higher eukaryotic cells, we have analyzed the expression of an Escherichia coli glutamine-inserting amber suppressor tRNA gene in COS-1 and CV-1 monkey kidney cells. The tRNA gene used has the suppressor tRNA coding sequence flanked by sequences derived from a human initiator methionine tRNA gene and has two changes in the coding sequence. This tRNA gene is transcribed, and the transcript is processed to yield the mature tRNA in COS-1 and CV-1 cells. We show that the tRNA is not aminoacylated in COS-1 cells by any of the endogenous aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases and is therefore not functional as a suppressor. Concomitant expression of the E. coli glutaminyl-tRNA synthetase gene results in aminoacylation of the suppressor tRNA and its functioning as a suppressor. These results open up the possibility of attempts at regulated suppression of nonsense codons in mammalian cells by regulating expression of the E. coli glutaminyl-tRNA synthetase gene in an inducible, cell-type specific, or developmentally regulated manner.

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