Breaking a single hydrogen bond in the mitochondrial tRNAPhe-PheRS complex leads to phenotypic pleiotropy of human disease

Moshe Peretz, Dmitry Tworowski, Ekaterine Kartvelishvili, John Livingston, Zofia Chrzanowska-Lightowlers, Mark Safro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Various pathogenic variants in both mitochondrial tRNAPhe and Phenylalanyl-tRNA synthetase mitochondrial protein coding gene (FARS2) gene encoding for the human mitochondrial PheRS have been identified and associated with neurological and/or muscle-related pathologies. An important Guanine-34 (G34)A anticodon mutation associated with myoclonic epilepsy with ragged red fibers (MERRF) syndrome has been reported in hmit-tRNAPhe. The majority of G34 contacts in available aaRSs-tRNAs complexes specifically use that base as an important tRNA identity element. The network of intermolecular interactions providing its specific recognition also largely conserved. However, their conservation depends also on the invariance of the residues in the anticodon binding domain (ABD) of human mitochondrial Phenylalanyl-tRNA synthetase (hmit-PheRS). A defect in recognition of the anticodon of tRNAPhe may happen not only because of G34A mutation, but also due to mutations in the ABD. Indeed, a pathogenic mutation in FARS2 has been recently reported in a 9-year-old female patient harboring a p.Asp364Gly mutation. Asp364 is hydrogen bonded (HB) to G34 in WT hmit-PheRS. Thus, there are two pathogenic variants disrupting HB between G34 and Asp364: one is associated with G34A mutation, and the other with Asp364Gly mutation. We have measured the rates of tRNAPhe aminoacylation catalyzed by WT hmit-PheRS and mutant enzymes. These data ranked the residues making a HB with G34 according to their contribution to activity and the signal transduction pathway in the hmit-PheRS-tRNAPhe complex. Furthermore, we carried out extensive MD simulations to reveal the interdomain contact topology on the dynamic trajectories of the complex, and gaining insight into the structural and dynamic integrity effects of hmit-PheRS complexed with tRNAPhe. Database: Structural data are available in PDB database under the accession number(s): 3CMQ, 3TUP, 5MGH, 5MGV.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3814-3826
Number of pages13
JournalFEBS Journal
Issue number17
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Authors. The FEBS Journal published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Federation of European Biochemical Societies


  • MD simulations
  • Phenylalanyl-tRNA synthetase
  • X-ray structure
  • human diseases
  • mitochondria
  • pathogenic mutations
  • tRNA


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