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EMBO J. 2008 Dec 17;27(24):3322-31. doi: 10.1038/emboj.2008.243. Epub 2008 Nov 20.

Recognition of aminoacyl-tRNA: a common molecular mechanism revealed by cryo-EM.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA.


The accuracy of ribosomal translation is achieved by an initial selection and a proofreading step, mediated by EF-Tu, which forms a ternary complex with aminoacyl(aa)-tRNA. To study the binding modes of different aa-tRNAs, we compared cryo-EM maps of the kirromycin-stalled ribosome bound with ternary complexes containing Phe-tRNA(Phe), Trp-tRNA(Trp), or Leu-tRNA(LeuI). The three maps suggest a common binding manner of cognate aa-tRNAs in their specific binding with both the ribosome and EF-Tu. All three aa-tRNAs have the same 'loaded spring' conformation with a kink and twist between the D-stem and anticodon stem. The three complexes are similarly integrated in an interaction network, extending from the anticodon loop through h44 and protein S12 to the EF-Tu-binding CCA end of aa-tRNA, proposed to signal cognate codon-anticodon interaction to the GTPase centre and tune the accuracy of aa-tRNA selection.

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