Multistep Engineering of Pyrrolysyl-tRNA Synthetase to Genetically Encode Nε-(o-Azidobenzyloxycarbonyl) lysine for Site-Specific Protein Modification

Tatsuo Yanagisawa, Ryohei Ishii, Ryuya Fukunaga, Takatsugu Kobayashi, Kensaku Sakamoto, Shigeyuki Yokoyama

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pyrrolysyl-tRNA synthetase (PylRS) esterifies pyrrolysine to tRNAPyl. In this study, Nε-(tert-butyloxycarbonyl)-L-lysine (BocLys) and Nε-allyloxycarbonyl-L-lysine (AlocLys) were esterified to tRNAPyl by PylRS. Crystal structures of a PylRS catalytic fragment complexed with BocLys and an ATP analog and with AlocLys-AMP revealed that PylRS requires an Nε-carbonyl group bearing a substituent with a certain size. A PylRS(Y384F) mutant obtained by random screening exhibited higher in vitro aminoacylation and in vivo amber suppression activities with BocLys, AlocLys, and pyrrolysine than those of the wild-type PylRS. Furthermore, the structure-based Y306A mutation of PylRS drastically increased the in vitro aminoacylation activity for Nε-benzyloxycarbonyl-L-lysine (ZLys). A PylRS with both the Y306A and Y384F mutations enabled the large-scale preparation (>10 mg per liter medium) of proteins site-specifically containing Nε-(o-azidobenzyloxycarbonyl)-L-lysine (AzZLys). The AzZLys-containing protein was labeled with a fluorescent probe, by Staudinger ligation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1187-1197
Number of pages11
JournalChemistry and Biology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 24 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • DNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Clinical Biochemistry

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