Conversation 11: No. 1
Volume: Conversation 11
Issue Number 1
Aminoacylation at the Atomic Level in Class IIa Aminoacyl-tRNA Synthetases
The crystal structures of histidyl- (HisRS) and threonyl-tRNA synthetase (ThrRS) from E. coli and glycyl-tRNA synthetase (GlyRS) from T. thermophilus, all homodimeric class IIa enzymes, were determined in enzyme-substrate and enzyme-product states corresponding to the two steps of aminoacylation. HisRS was complexed with the histidine analog histidinol plus ATP and with histidyl-adenylate, while GlyRS was complexed with ATP and with glycyl-adenylate; these complexes represent the enzyme-substrate and enzyme-product states of the first step of aminoacylation, i.e. the amino acid activation. In both enzymes the ligands occupy the substrate-binding pocket of the N-terminal active site domain, which contains the classical class II aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase fold. HisRS interacts in the same fashion with the histidine, adenosine and a-phosphate moieties of the substrates and intermediate, and GlyRS interacts in the same way with the adenosine and a-phosphate moieties in both states. In addition to the amino acid recognition, there is one key mechanistic difference between the two enzymes: HisRS uses an arginine whereas GlyRS employs a magnesium ion to catalyze the activation of the amino acid. ThrRS was complexed with its cognate tRNA and ATP, which represents the enzyme-substrate state of the second step of aminoacylation, i.e. the transfer of the amino acid to the 3'-terminal ribose of the tRNA. All three enzymes utilize class II conserved residues to interact with the adenosine-phosphate. ThrRS binds tRNAThr so that the acceptor stem enters the active site pocket above the adenylate, with the 3'-terminal OH positioned to pick up the amino acid, and the anticodon loop interacts with the C-terminal domain whose fold is shared by all three enzymes. We can thus extend the principles of tRNA binding to the other two enzymes.
John G. Arnez1,3
1 Laboratoire de Biologie Structurale
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