The dual identities of mammalian tRNASecfor SerRS and selenocysteine synthase

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Se is an essential trace element and is found as a selenocysteine in the active site of Se-enzymes, such as glutathione peroxidase. tRNASec is first aminoacylated with serine by Ser RS and further is converted to selenocysteyl-tRNA by selenocysteine synthase. Mammalian selenocysteine tRNA has dual identities with Ser RS and selenocysteine synthase. Key identity elements for selenocysteine synthase are the long 9 bp AA- and long 6 bp D-stems. Major serine tRNA was converted to a mutant with a 9 bp AA-stem and 6 bp D-stem, instead of a 7 bp AA-stem and 3 bp D-stem. This mutant was active for selenylation as well as serylation. The relative kinetic parameter (Vmax/Km) of the mutant was 0.052 of the value (1.00) of wild-type Sec tRNA. This low value suggests that there is an unknown fine base specific for selenocysteine synthase. For serylation, mutant having 12 bp and wild type tRNASec having 13 bp of the total length of AA- + T-stems were active but the mutants having 11 or 14 bp were inactive. This shows that SerRS measures the distance between the discrimination base and long extra arm for recognition of tRNA Ser.

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