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Curr Opin Struct Biol. 2006 Feb;16(1):12-7. Epub 2005 Dec 20.

A story with a good ending: tRNA 3'-end maturation by CCA-adding enzymes.

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Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.


CCA-adding enzymes (tRNA nucleotidyltransferases) are responsible for the maturation or repair of the functional 3' end of tRNAs. These enzymes are remarkable because they polymerize the essential nucleotides CCA onto the 3' terminus of tRNA precursors without using a nucleic acid template. Recent crystal structures, plus three decades of enzymology, have revealed the elegant mechanisms by which CCA-adding enzymes achieve their substrate specificity in a nucleic acid template independent fashion. The class I CCA-adding enzyme employs both an arginine sidechain and backbone phosphates of the bound tRNA to recognize incoming nucleotides. It switches from C to A addition through changes in the size and shape of the nucleotide-binding pocket, which is progressively altered by the elongating 3' terminus of the tRNA. By contrast, the class II CCA-adding enzyme uses only amino acid sidechains, which form a protein template for incoming nucleotide selection.

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