tRNA nucleotidyltransferase is not essential for Escherichia coli viability.

L. Zhu, M. P. Deutscher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


The role of tRNA nucleotidyltransferase in Escherichia coli has been uncertain because all tRNA genes studied in this organism already encode the -C-C-A sequence. Examination of a cca mutant, originally thought to contain 1-2% enzyme activity, indicated that it actually produces an inactive fragment of 40 kd compared to 47 kd for the wild-type enzyme due to a nonsense mutation in its cca gene. To confirm that the residual activity in extracts of this strain is due to another enzyme, and that tRNA nucleotidyltransferase is non-essential, we have interrupted the cca gene in vitro, and transferred this mutant gene to a variety of strains. In all cases mutant strains are viable, although as much as 15% of the tRNA population contains defective 3' termini, and no tRNA nucleotidyltransferase is detectable. Mutant strains grow slowly, but can be restored to more normal growth by a relA mutation or by a decrease in RNase T activity. In the latter case the amount of defective tRNA decreases dramatically. These findings indicate that tRNA nucleotidyltransferase is not essential for E. coli viability, and therefore, that all essential tRNA genes in this organism encode the -C-C-A sequence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2473-2477
Number of pages5
JournalThe EMBO journal
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1987
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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