A channeled tRNA cycle during mammalian protein synthesis

Romualdas Stapulionis, Murray P. Deutscher

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140 Scopus citations


In earlier studies it was shown that the mammalian translation system is highly organized in vivo and that the intermediates in the process, aminoacyl-tRNAs, are channeled-i.e., they are directly transferred from the aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases to the elongation factor to the ribosomes without dissociating into the cellular fluid. Here, we examine whether spent tRNAs leaving the ribosome enter the fluid phase or are transferred directly to their cognate aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases to complete a channeled tRNA cycle. Using a permeabilized CHO cell system that closely mimics living cells, we find that there is no leakage of endogenous tRNA during many cycles of translation, and protein synthesis remains linear during this period, even though free aminoacyl-tRNA is known to rapidly equilibrate between the inside and outside of these cells. We also find that exogenous tRNA and periodate- oxidized tRNA have no effect on protein synthesis in this system, indicating that they do not enter the translation machinery, despite the fact that exogenous tRNA rapidly distributes throughout the cells. Furthermore, most of the cellular aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases function only with endogenous tRNAs, although a portion can use exogenous tRNA molecules. However, aminoacylation of these exogenous tRNAs is strongly inhibited by oxidized tRNA; this inhibitor has no effect on endogenous aminoacylation. On the basis of these and the earlier observations, we conclude that endogenous tRNA is never free of the protein synthetic machinery at any stage of the translation process and, consequently, that there is a channeled tRNA cycle during protein synthesis in mammalian cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7158-7161
Number of pages4
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 1 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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