Published on Aug. 1, 2007 in RNA volume 13.
PubMed ID: 17592039
Transfer RNAs specific for Gln, Lys, and Glu from all organisms (except Mycoplasma) and organelles have a 2-thiouridine derivative (xm(5)s(2)U) as wobble nucleoside. These tRNAs read the A- and G-ending codons in the split codon boxes His/Gln, Asn/Lys, and Asp/Glu. In eukaryotic cytoplasmic tRNAs the conserved constituent (xm(5)-) in position 5 of uridine is 5-methoxycarbonylmethyl (mcm(5)). A protein (Tuc1p) from yeast resembling the bacterial protein TtcA, which is required for the synthesis of 2-thiocytidine in position 32 of the tRNA, was shown instead to be required for the synthesis of 2-thiouridine in the wobble position (position 34). Apparently, an ancient member of the TtcA family has evolved to thiolate U34 in tRNAs of organisms from the domains Eukarya and Archaea. Deletion of the TUC1 gene together with a deletion of the ELP3 gene, which results in the lack of the mcm(5) side chain, removes all modifications from the wobble uridine derivatives of the cytoplasmic tRNAs specific for Gln, Lys, and Glu, and is lethal to the cell. Since excess of the unmodified form of these three tRNAs rescued the double mutant elp3 tuc1, the primary function of mcm(5)s(2)U34 seems to be to improve the efficiency to read the cognate codons rather than to prevent mis-sense errors. Surprisingly, overexpression of the mcm(5)s(2)U-lacking tRNA(Lys) alone was sufficient to restore viability of the double mutant.