Aminoacyl-tRNA Synthesis in Methanogenic Archaea

Dragana Korenčić1, Ivan Ahel1,2 and Dieter Söll1,3*

Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University, P.O. Box 208114, 266 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, CT 06520-8114, USA

2Department of Molecular Genetics, Rudjer Boskovic Institute, P.O. Box 180, HR-10002, Zagreb, Croatia
3Department of Chemistry, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520-8114, USA

Article history:

Received: June 22, 2002
Accepted: November 7, 2002

Key words:

aminoacyl-tRNA, methanogenic Archaea, evolution, tRNA, translation


Aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (AARSs) are essential for faithful translation of the genetic code and have long been studied intensively. Major discoveries explained basic principles of how amino acids are paired to their cognate tRNAs to ensure high fidelity of translation. However, advances in genomics instigated identification of novel enzymes and pathways to aminoacyl-tRNA synthesis. In that respect methanogenic Archaea are particularly prominent, most of which possess non-canonical routes to synthesis of Asn-tRNA, Cys-tRNA, Gln-tRNA and Lys-tRNA. Additionally, some methanogenic seryl-tRNA synthetases are only marginally related to their homologues outside the archaeal kingdom, while other AARSs exhibit multiplicity of their genes (LysRS, SerRS, PheRS). Therefore, methanogens represent an exciting group of organisms regarding aminoacyl-tRNA synthesis, attesting to high degree of evolutionary diversity. 

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