Mechanism of N6-threonylcarbamoyladenonsine (t(6)A) biosynthesis: isolation and characterization of the intermediate threonylcarbamoyl-AMP

Biochemistry. 2012 Nov 6;51(44):8950-63. doi: 10.1021/bi301233d. Epub 2012 Oct 26.


Genetic and biochemical studies have recently implicated four proteins required in bacteria for the biosynthesis of the universal tRNA modified base N6-threonylcarbamoyl adenosine (t(6)A). In this work, t(6)A biosynthesis in Bacillus subtilis has been reconstituted in vitro and found to indeed require the four proteins YwlC (TsaC), YdiB (TsaE), YdiC (TsaB) and YdiE (TsaD). YwlC was found to catalyze the conversion of L-threonine, bicarbonate/CO(2) and ATP to give the intermediate L-threonylcarbamoyl-AMP (TC-AMP) and pyrophosphate as products. TC-AMP was isolated by HPLC and characterized by mass spectrometry and (1)H NMR. NMR analysis showed that TC-AMP decomposes to give AMP and a nearly equimolar mixture of L-threonine and 5-methyl-2-oxazolidinone-4-carboxylate as final products. Under physiological conditions (pH 7.5, 37 °C, 2 mM MgCl(2)), the half-life of TC-AMP was measured to be 3.5 min. Both YwlC (in the presence of pyrophosphatase) and its Escherichia coli homologue YrdC catalyze the formation of TC-AMP while producing only a small molar fraction of AMP. This suggests that CO(2) and not an activated form of bicarbonate is the true substrate for these enzymes. In the presence of pyrophosphate, both enzymes catalyze clean conversion of TC-AMP back to ATP. Purified TC-AMP is efficiently processed to t(6)A by the YdiBCE proteins in the presence of tRNA substrates. This reaction is ATP independent in vitro, despite the known ATPase activity of YdiB. The estimated rate of conversion of TC-AMP by YdiBCE to t(6)A is somewhat lower than the initial rate from L-threonine, bicarbonate and ATP, which together with the stability data, is consistent with previous studies that suggest channeling of this intermediate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Adenine / biosynthesis
  • Adenosine Monophosphate / analogs & derivatives*
  • Adenosine Monophosphate / biosynthesis*
  • Adenosine Monophosphate / isolation & purification
  • Alcohol Oxidoreductases / metabolism
  • Bacillus subtilis / enzymology
  • Kinetics
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Threonine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Threonine / biosynthesis
  • Threonine / isolation & purification


  • Threonine
  • N-(purin-6-ylcarbamoyl)threonine
  • Adenosine Monophosphate
  • Alcohol Oxidoreductases
  • Shikimate dehydrogenase
  • Adenine