Tryptophanamide formation by Escherichia coli tryptophanyl‐tRNA synthetase

David ANDREWS, Véronique TREZEGUET, Michel MERLE, Pierre‐Vincent ‐V GRAVES, Karl H. MUENCH, Bernard LABOUESSE

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13 Scopus citations


When tryptophanyl-tRNA synthetase from Escherichia coli is allowed to react with L-tryptophan and ATP-Mg in the presence of inorganic pyrophosphatase, the fluorescence change of the reaction mixture reveals three or four sequential processes, depending on the buffer used. Quenched-flow and stopped-flow experiments show that the first two processes, which occur in the 0.001-1.0-s time scale, can be correlated to the formation of two moles of tryptophanyl-adenylate per mole of dimeric enzyme. These two processes are reversible by adding PPi, as seen in the fluorimeter. The third process leads to a reaction product that can no longer reform ATP after addition of PPi and that represents tryptophanyl-ATP ester, as demonstrated by thin-layer chromatography. This compound has been previously shown to be formed by tryptophanyl-tRNA synthetase from E. coli [K. H. Muench (1969) Biochemistry 8, 4872-4879]. Its formation is accompanied by a fluorescence decrease which reaches a minimum in about 30 min. The nature of the fourth process depends on the reaction conditions employed. In sodium bicarbonate or potassium phosphate buffer, the fourth process corresponds to the non-enzymatic hydrolysis of tryptophanyl-ATP ester. This spontaneous hydrolysis competes with formation of the ester and limits its concentration. Eventually, the progressive exhaustion of ATP brings the fluorescence intensity of the reaction mixture back to its initial value. In contrast, in ammonium bicarbonate buffer the previous third process is no longer visible, as evidenced by the absence of a fluorescence decrease beyond the fast initial quenching linked to the formation of tryptophanyl-adenylate. Instead, a fluorescence increase is observed. However, unlike the fourth process seen in sodium bicarbonate buffer, the fluorescence increase in ammonium bicarbonate is much larger than the initial fluorescence decrease linked to adenylate formation, the final fluorescence greatly surpassing the starting fluorescence signal. The reaction product of this process is tryptophanamide, as evidenced by high-performance liquid chromatography. Tryptophanamide formation is faster than that of tryptophanyl-ATP ester and is enzyme-catalyzed with a Km of 1 mM for ammonia and a rate constant of 5.7 min-1 at pH 8.3, 25 degrees C. The affinity of tryptophanamide for the protein is too weak to allow the formation of a significant concentration of enzyme-product complex. Tryptophanamide is therefore released in the reaction medium and its concentration reaches that of the limiting substrate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-209
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Biochemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry


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