Amino acids are attached to the tRNA 3'-end as a prerequisite for entering the ribosome for protein synthesis. Amino acid attachment also gives tRNA access to nonribosomal cellular activities. However, the normal attachment is via an ester linkage between the carboxylic group of the amino acid and the 3'-hydroxyl of the terminal A76 ribose in tRNA. The instability of this ester linkage has severely hampered studies of aminoacyl-tRNAs. Although the use of 3'-amino-3'-deoxy A76 in a 3'-amino-tailed tRNA provides stable aminoacyl attachment via an amide linkage, there are multiple tailing protocols and the efficiency of each relative to the others is unknown. Here we compare five different tailing protocols in parallel, all dependent on the CCA-adding enzyme [CTP(ATP): tRNA nucleotidyl transferase; abbreviated as the CCA enzyme] to exchange the natural ribose with the modified one. We show that the most efficient protocol is achieved by the CCA-catalyzed pyrophosphorolysis removal of the natural A76 in equilibrium with the addition of the appropriate ATP analog to synthesize the modified 3'-end. This protocol for 3'-amino-tailing affords quantitative and stable attachment of a broad range of amino acids to tRNA, indicating its general utility for studies of aminoacyl-tRNAs in both canonical and noncanonical activities.
Gamper, Howard and Hou, Ya-Ming, "tRNA 3'-amino-tailing for stable amino acid attachment." (2018). Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Faculty Papers. Paper 143.
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