Transfer RNAs from Escherichia coli, yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), and calf liver were subjected to controlled hydrolysis with venom exonuclease to remove 3′-terminal nucleotides, and then reconstructed successively with cytosine triphosphate (CTP) and 2′- or 3′-deoxyadenosine 5′-triphosphate in the presence of yeast CTP(ATP):tRNA nucleotidyltransferase. The modified tRNAs were purified by chromatography on DBAE-cellulose or acetylated DBAE-cellulose and then utilized in tRNA aminoacylation experiments in the presence of the homologous aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase activities. The E. coli, yeast, and calf liver aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases specific for alanine, glycine, histidine, lysine, serine, and threonine, as well as the E. coli and yeast prolyl-tRNA synthetases and the yeast glutaminyl-tRNA synthetase utilized only those homologous modified tRNAs terminating in 2′-deoxyadenosine (i.e., having an available 3′-OH group). This is interpreted as evidence that these aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases normally aminoacylate their unmodified cognate tRNAs on the 3′-OH group. The aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases from all three sources specific for arginine, isoleucine, leucine, phenylalanine, and valine, as well as the E. coli and yeast enzymes specific for methionine and the E. coli glutamyl-tRNA synthetase, used as substrates exclusively those tRNAs terminating in 3′-deoxyadenosine. Certain aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases, including the E. coli, yeast, and calf liver asparagine and tyrosine activating enzymes, the E. coli and yeast cysteinyl-tRNA synthetases, and the aspartyl-tRNA synthetase from yeast, utilized both isomeric tRNAs as substrates, although generally not at the same rate. While the calf liver aspartyl- and cysteinyl-tRNA synthetases utilized only the corresponding modified tRNA species terminating in 2′-deoxyadenosine, the use of a more concentrated enzyme preparation might well result in aminoacylation of the isomeric species. The one tRNA for which positional specificity does seem to have changed during evolution is tryptophan, whose E. coli aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase utilized predominantly the cognate tRNA terminating in 3′-deoxyadenosine, while the corresponding yeast and calf liver enzymes were found to utilize predominantly the isomeric tRNAs terminating in 2′-deoxyadenosine. The data presented indicate that while there is considerable diversity in the initial position of aminoacylation of individual tRNA isoacceptors derived from a single source, positional specificity has generally been conserved during the evolution from a prokaryotic to mammalian organism.
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