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EMBO J. 1996 Nov 1;15(21):5976-87.

The expression of E.coli threonyl-tRNA synthetase is regulated at the translational level by symmetrical operator-repressor interactions.

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UPR 9002 du CNRS, Institut de Biologie Mol├ęculaire et Cellulaire, Strasbourg, France.


Threonyl-tRNA synthetase from Escherichia coli represses the translation of its own mRNA by binding to the operator region located upstream from the ribosome binding site. The operator contains two stemloop structures which interact specifically with the homodimeric enzyme. Here, we provide in vitro and in vivo evidence that these two stem-loop structures are recognized by the enzyme in an analogous way and mimic the anticodon arm of E.coli tRNA(Thr). Determination of the stoichiometry of the different RNA-threonyl-tRNA synthetase complexes reveals that two tRNA(Thr) molecules bind to the enzyme whereas only one thrS operator interacts with the homodimeric enzyme. A model is presented in which the two anticodon-like domains of the operator bind symmetrically to the two tRNA(Thr) anticodon recognition sites (one per subunit) of the dimeric threonyl-tRNA synthetase. Although symmetrical operator-repressor interactions in transcriptional control are widespread, this report stresses the importance of such interactions in translational regulation of gene expression.

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