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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Selection of viral RNA-derived tRNA-like structures with improved valylation activities.

The tRNA-like structure (TLS) of turnip yellow mosaic virus (TYMV) RNA was previously shown to be efficiently charged by yeast valyl-tRNA synthetase (ValRS). This RNA has a noncanonical structure at its 3'-terminus but mimics a tRNA L-shaped fold, including an anticodon loop containing the major identity nucleotides for valylation, and a pseudoknotted amino acid accepting domain. Here we describe an in vitro selection experiment aimed (i) to verify the completeness of the valine identity set, (ii) to elucidate the impact of the pseudoknot on valylation, and (iii) to investigate whether functional communication exists between the two distal anticodon and amino acid accepting domains. Valylatable variants were selected from a pool of 2 x 10(13) RNA molecules derived from the TYMV TLS randomized in the anticodon loop nucleotides and in the length (1-6 nucleotides) and sequence of the pseudoknot loop L1. After nine rounds of selection by aminoacylation, 42 have been isolated. Among them, 17 RNAs could be efficiently charged by yeast ValRS. Their sequence revealed strong conservation of the second and the third anticodon triplet positions (A(56), C(55)) and the very 3'-end loop nucleotide C(53). A large variability of the other nucleotides of the loop was observed and no wild-type sequence was recovered. The selected molecules presented pseudoknot domains with loop L1 varying in size from 3-6 nucleotides and some sequence conservation, but did neither reveal the wild-type combination. All selected variants are 5-50 times more efficiently valylated than the wild-type TLS, suggesting that the natural viral sequence has emerged from a combination of evolutionary pressures among which aminoacylation was not predominant. This is in line with the role of the TLS in viral replication.[1]


  1. Selection of viral RNA-derived tRNA-like structures with improved valylation activities. Wientges, J., Pütz, J., Giegé, R., Florentz, C., Schwienhorst, A. Biochemistry (2000) [Pubmed]
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