Document Type


Publication Date



This article is the author’s final published version in Genes, Volume 11, Issue 10, October 2020, Article number 1173.

The published version is available at Copyright © Gamper and Hou


Aminoacylation of tRNA generates an aminoacyl-tRNA (aa-tRNA) that is active for protein synthesis on the ribosome. Quantification of aminoacylation of tRNA is critical to understand the mechanism of specificity and the flux of the aa-tRNA into the protein synthesis machinery, which determines the rate of cell growth. Traditional assays for the quantification of tRNA aminoacylation involve radioactivity, either with a radioactive amino acid or with a [3'-32P]-labeled tRNA. We describe here a label-free assay that monitors aminoacylation by biotinylation-streptavidin (SA) conjugation to the α-amine or the α-imine of the aminoacyl group on the aa-tRNA. The conjugated aa-tRNA product is readily separated from the unreacted tRNA by a denaturing polyacrylamide gel, allowing for quantitative measurement of aminoacylation. This label-free assay is applicable to a wide range of amino acids and tRNA sequences and to both classes of aminoacylation. It is more sensitive and robust than the assay with a radioactive amino acid and has the potential to explore a wider range of tRNA than the assay with a [3'-32P]-labeled tRNA. This label-free assay reports kinetic parameters of aminoacylation quantitatively similar to those reported by using a radioactive amino acid, suggesting its broad applicability to research relevant to human health and disease.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

PubMed ID






To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.