Translation initiation from the ribosomal P-site is the specialty of the initiator tRNAs (tRNAfMet). Presence of the three consecutive G-C base pairs (G29-C41, G30-C40 and G31-C39) in their anticodon stems, a highly conserved feature of the initiator tRNAs across the three kingdoms of life, has been implicated in their preferential binding to the P-site. How this feature is exploited by ribosomes has remained unclear. Using a genetic screen, we have isolated an Escherichia coli strain, carrying a G122D mutation in folD, which allows initiation with the tRNAfMet containing mutations in one, two or all the three G-C base pairs. The strain shows a severe deficiency of methionine and S-adenosylmethionine, and lacks nucleoside methylations in rRNA. Targeted mutations in the methyltransferase genes have revealed a connection between the rRNA modifications and the fundamental process of the initiator tRNA selection by the ribosome.
- 5,10 methylene tetrahydrofolate dehydrogenase
- Modified nucleoside