Codon-anticodon Recognition in the Bacillus subtilis glyQS T Box Riboswitch: RNA-dependent Codon Selection Outside the Ribosome [Microbiology]

July 30th, 2015 by Caserta, E., Liu, L.-C., Grundy, F. J., Henkin, T. M.

Many amino acid-related genes in Gram-positive bacteria are regulated by the T box riboswitch. The leader RNA of genes in the T box family controls the expression of downstream genes by monitoring the aminoacylation status of the cognate tRNA. Previous studies identified a three nt codon, termed the Specifier Sequence, in the riboswitch that corresponds to the amino acid identity of the downstream genes. Pairing of the Specifier Sequence with the anticodon of the cognate tRNA is the primary determinant of specific tRNA recognition. This interaction mimics codon-anticodon pairing in translation, but occurs in the absence of the ribosome. The goal of the current study was to determine the effect of a full range of mismatches, for comparison with codon recognition in translation. Mutations were individually introduced into the Specifier Sequence of the glyQS leader RNA and tRNAGly anticodon to test the effect of all possible pairing combinations on tRNA binding affinity and antitermination efficiency. The functional role of the conserved purine 3 prime of the Specifier Sequence was also verified in this study. We found that substitutions at the Specifier Sequence resulted in reduced binding, the magnitude of which correlates well with the predicted stability of the RNA-RNA pairing. However, the tolerance for specific mismatches in antitermination was generally different from that during decoding, which reveals a unique tRNA recognition pattern in the T box antitermination system.
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