Published on July 1, 2011 in RNA volume 17.
PubMed ID: 21602302
Adenosine to inosine editing at the wobble position allows decoding of multiple codons by a single tRNA. This reaction is catalyzed by adenosine deaminases acting on tRNA (ADATs) and is essential for viability. In bacteria, the anticodon-specific enzyme is a homodimer that recognizes a single tRNA substrate (tRNA(Arg)(ACG)) and can efficiently deaminate short anticodon stem-loop mimics of this tRNA in vitro. The eukaryal enzyme is composed of two nonidentical subunits, ADAT2 and ADAT3, which upon heterodimerization, recognize seven to eight different tRNAs as substrates, depending on the organism, and require a full-length tRNA for activity. Although crystallographic data have provided clues to why the bacterial deaminase can utilize short substrates, residues that provide substrate binding and recognition with the eukaryotic enzymes are not currently known. In the present study, we have used a combination of mutagenesis, binding studies, and kinetic analysis to explore the contribution of individual residues in Trypanosoma brucei ADAT2 (TbADAT2) to tRNA recognition. We show that deletion of the last 10 amino acids at the C terminus of TbADAT2 abolishes tRNA binding. In addition, single alanine replacements of a string of positively charged amino acids (KRKRK) lead to binding defects that correlate with losses in enzyme activity. This region, which we have termed the KR-domain, provides a first glance at key residues involved in tRNA binding by eukaryotic tRNA editing deaminases.