Structural transitions induced by the interaction between tRNA(Gly) and the Bacillus subtilis glyQS T box leader RNA

J Mol Biol. 2005 Jun 3;349(2):273-87. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2005.03.061. Epub 2005 Apr 8.


The T box system regulates expression of amino acid-related genes in Gram-positive bacteria through premature termination of transcription. Synthesis of the full-length mRNA requires stabilization of an antiterminator element in the 5' untranslated leader RNA by the cognate uncharged tRNA. tRNA(Gly)-dependent antitermination of the Bacillus subtilis glyQS gene (encoding glycyl-tRNA synthetase) can be reproduced in a purified in vitro transcription system, indicating that the nascent transcript is sufficient for interaction with the tRNA. Genetic analyses previously demonstrated base pairing of a single codon in the leader RNA with the tRNA anticodon, and between the antiterminator and the tRNA acceptor end. In this study, we established conditions for specific binding of tRNA(Gly) to glyQS leader RNA generated by phage T7 RNA polymerase. Structural mapping studies revealed tRNA(Gly)-induced protection in the glyQS leader RNA at the two known sites of interaction with the tRNA, as well as at other regions between these sites. The proposed tRNA-dependent structural switch between the competing terminator and antiterminator forms of the leader RNA was demonstrated directly. Changes in tRNA(Gly) upon binding to glyQS leader RNA were detected in the anticodon loop, consistent with pairing with the specifier sequence, and in the highly conserved G19 in the D-loop, similar to effects induced by codon-anticodon interaction in the ribosome. This study provides biochemical evidence for direct interaction of tRNA(Gly) with full-length in vitro transcribed glyQS leader RNA, and an initial view of structural modulations of both RNA partners within the complex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • 5' Untranslated Regions / chemistry
  • 5' Untranslated Regions / genetics
  • 5' Untranslated Regions / metabolism*
  • Bacillus subtilis / genetics*
  • Glycine-tRNA Ligase / genetics*
  • Magnesium / pharmacology
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Peptide Chain Termination, Translational / genetics
  • RNA, Bacterial / chemistry*
  • RNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • RNA, Bacterial / metabolism*
  • RNA, Transfer, Gly / chemistry*
  • RNA, Transfer, Gly / genetics
  • RNA, Transfer, Gly / metabolism*
  • Ribonuclease H / metabolism


  • 5' Untranslated Regions
  • RNA, Bacterial
  • RNA, Transfer, Gly
  • Ribonuclease H
  • Glycine-tRNA Ligase
  • Magnesium