Reference: Guo M and Yang XL (2014) Architecture and metamorphosis. Top Curr Chem 344:89-118

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Abstract


When compared to other conserved housekeeping protein families, such as ribosomal proteins, during the evolution of higher eukaryotes, aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (aaRSs) show an apparent high propensity to add new sequences, and especially new domains. The stepwise emergence of those new domains is consistent with their involvement in a broad range of biological functions beyond protein synthesis, and correlates with the increasing biological complexity of higher organisms. These new domains have been extensively characterized based on their evolutionary origins and their sequence, structural, and functional features. While some of the domains are uniquely found in aaRSs and may have originated from nucleic acid binding motifs, others are common domain modules mediating protein-protein interactions that play a critical role in the assembly of the multi-synthetase complex (MSC). Interestingly, the MSC has emerged from a miniature complex in yeast to a large stable complex in humans. The human MSC consists of nine aaRSs (LysRS, ArgRS, GlnRS, AspRS, MetRS, IleRS, LeuRS, GluProRS, and bifunctional aaRs) and three scaffold proteins (AIMP1/p43, AIMP2/p38, and AIMP3/p18), and has a molecular weight of 1.5 million Dalton. The MSC has been proposed to have a functional dualism: facilitating protein synthesis and serving as a reservoir of non-canonical functions associated with its synthetase and non-synthetase components. Importantly, domain additions and functional expansions are not limited to the components of the MSC and are found in almost all aaRS proteins. From a structural perspective, multi-functionalities are represented by multiple conformational states. In fact, alternative conformations of aaRSs have been generated by various mechanisms from proteolysis to alternative splicing and posttranslational modifications, as well as by disease-causing mutations. Therefore, the metamorphosis between different conformational states is connected to the activation and regulation of the novel functions of aaRSs in higher eukaryotes.

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Journal Article
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Guo M, Yang XL
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