Yeast initiator tRNA identity elements cooperate to influence multiple steps of translation initiation

Lee D. Kapp, Sarah E. Kolitz, Jon R. Lorsch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


All three kingdoms of life employ two methionine tRNAs, one for translation initiation and the other for insertion of methionines at internal positions within growing polypeptide chains. We have used a reconstituted yeast translation initiation system to explore the interactions of the initiator tRNA with the translation initiation machinery. Our data indicate that in addition to its previously characterized role in binding of the initiator tRNA to eukaryotic initiation factor 2 (eIF2), the initiator-specific A1:U72 base pair at the top of the acceptor stem is important for the binding of the eIF2·GTP·Met-tRNAi ternary complex to the 40S ribosomal subunit. We have also shown that the initiator-specific G:C base pairs in the anticodon stem of the initiator tRNA are required for the strong thermodynamic coupling between binding of the ternary complex and mRNA to the ribosome. This coupling reflects interactions that occur within the complex upon recognition of the start codon, suggesting that these initiator-specific G:C pairs influence this step. The effect of these anticodon stem identity elements is influenced by bases in the T loop of the tRNA, suggesting that conformational coupling between the D-loop-T-loop substructure and the anticodon stem of the initiator tRNA may occur during AUG codon selection in the ribosomal P-site, similar to the conformational coupling that occurs in A-site tRNAs engaged in mRNA decoding during the elongation phase of protein synthesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)751-764
Number of pages14
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Identity elements
  • Initiator tRNA
  • Mechanism
  • Protein synthesis
  • T loop
  • Translation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology


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