Deep mutational analysis of elongation factor eEF2 residues implicated in human disease to identify functionally important contacts with the ribosome

J Biol Chem. 2023 Jan;299(1):102771. doi: 10.1016/j.jbc.2022.102771. Epub 2022 Dec 5.


An emerging body of research is revealing mutations in elongation factor eEF2 that are implicated in both inherited and de novo neurodevelopmental disorders. Previous structural analysis has revealed that most pathogenic amino acid substitutions map to the three main points of contact between eEF2 and critical large subunit rRNA elements of the ribosome, specifically to contacts with Helix 69, Helix 95, also known as the sarcin-ricin loop, and Helix 43 of the GTPase-associated center. In order to further investigate these eEF2-ribosome interactions, we identified a series of yeast eEF2 amino acid residues based on their proximity to these functionally important rRNA elements. Based on this analysis, we constructed mutant strains to sample the full range of amino acid sidechain biochemical properties, including acidic, basic, nonpolar, and deletion (alanine) residues. These were characterized with regard to their effects on cell growth, sensitivity to ribosome-targeting antibiotics, and translational fidelity. We also biophysically characterized one mutant from each of the three main points of contact with the ribosome using CD. Collectively, our findings from these studies identified functionally critical contacts between eEF2 and the ribosome. The library of eEF2 mutants generated in this study may serve as an important resource for biophysical studies of eEF2/ribosome interactions going forward.

Keywords: Spinocerebellar ataxia; eEF2; fidelity; frameshifting; mutagenesis; neurocranial development; neurodegeneration; ribosome; translation; yeast.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / chemistry
  • Amino Acids / genetics
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Peptide Elongation Factor 2* / genetics
  • Peptide Elongation Factor 2* / metabolism
  • Ribosomes* / metabolism
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism


  • Amino Acids
  • Peptide Elongation Factor 2