Section 54
Chapter 53,564

Histidyl-tRNA synthetase urzymes: Class i and Ii aminoacyl tRNA synthetase urzymes have comparable catalytic activities for cognate amino acid activation

Li, L.; Weinreb, V.; Francklyn, C.; Carter, C.W.

Journal of Biological Chemistry 286(12): 10387-10395


ISSN/ISBN: 1083-351X
PMID: 21270472
DOI: 10.1074/jbc.m110.198929
Accession: 053563249

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Four minimal (119-145 residue) active site fragments of Escherichia coli Class II histidyl-tRNA synthetase were constructed, expressed as maltose-binding protein fusions, and assayed for histidine activation as fusion proteins and after TEV cleavage, using the (32)PP(i) exchange assay. All contain conserved Motifs 1 and 2. Two contain an N-terminal extension of Motif 1 and two contain Motif 3. Five experimental results argue strongly for the authenticity of the observed catalytic activities: (i) active site titration experiments showing high (∼0.1-0.55) fractions of active molecules, (ii) release of cryptic activity by TEV cleavage of the fusion proteins, (iii) reduced activity associated with an active site mutation, (iv) quantitative attribution of increased catalytic activity to the intrinsic effects of Motif 3, the N-terminal extension and their synergistic effect, and (v) significantly altered K(m) values for both ATP and histidine substrates. It is therefore plausible that neither the insertion domain nor Motif 3 were essential for catalytic activity in the earliest Class II aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases. The mean rate enhancement of all four cleaved constructs is ∼10(9) times that of the estimated uncatalyzed rate. As observed for the tryptophanyl-tRNA synthetase (TrpRS) Urzyme, these fragments bind ATP tightly but have reduced affinity for cognate amino acids. These fragments thus likely represent Urzymes (Ur = primitive, original, earliest + enzyme) comparable in size and catalytic activity and coded by sequences proposed to be antisense to that coding the previously described Class I TrpRS Urzyme. Their catalytic activities provide metrics for experimental recapitulation of very early evolutionary events.

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