Published on Jan. 1, 2006 in Structure volume 14.
PubMed ID: 16472754
Uridine at wobble position 34 of tRNA(Lys), tRNA(Glu), and tRNA(Gln) is exclusively modified into 2-thiouridine (s2U), which is crucial for both precise codon recognition and recognition by the cognate aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases. Recent Escherichia coli genetic studies revealed that the products of five novel genes, tusABCDE, function in the s2U modification. Here, we solved the 2.15 angstroms crystal structure of the E. coli TusBCD complex, a sulfur transfer mediator, forming a heterohexamer composed of a dimer of the heterotrimer. Structure-based sequence alignment suggested two putative active site Cys residues, Cys79 (in TusC) and Cys78 (in TusD), which are exposed on the hexameric complex. In vivo mutant analyses revealed that only Cys78, in the TusD subunit, participates in sulfur transfer during the s2U modification process. Since the single Cys acts as a catalytic residue, we proposed that TusBCD mediates sulfur relay via a putative persulfide state of the TusD subunit.