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This article is the author’s final published version in Nature Communications, Volume 12, Issue 1, January 2021, Article number 328.

The published version is available at Copyright © Gamper et al.


While genome recoding using quadruplet codons to incorporate non-proteinogenic amino acids is attractive for biotechnology and bioengineering purposes, the mechanism through which such codons are translated is poorly understood. Here we investigate translation of quadruplet codons by a +1-frameshifting tRNA, SufB2, that contains an extra nucleotide in its anticodon loop. Natural post-transcriptional modification of SufB2 in cells prevents it from frameshifting using a quadruplet-pairing mechanism such that it preferentially employs a triplet-slippage mechanism. We show that SufB2 uses triplet anticodon-codon pairing in the 0-frame to initially decode the quadruplet codon, but subsequently shifts to the +1-frame during tRNA-mRNA translocation. SufB2 frameshifting involves perturbation of an essential ribosome conformational change that facilitates tRNA-mRNA movements at a late stage of the translocation reaction. Our results provide a molecular mechanism for SufB2-induced +1 frameshifting and suggest that engineering of a specific ribosome conformational change can improve the efficiency of genome recoding.

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

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