Folia Microbiologica

, Volume 44, Issue 2, pp 131–141 | Cite as

Translational regulation by modifications of the elongation factor Tu

  • B. Kraal
  • C. Lippmann
  • C. Kleanthous
Papers Review


EF-Tu fromE. coli, one of the superfamily of GTPase switch proteins, plays a central role in the fast and accurate delivery of aminoacyl-tRNAs to the translating ribosome. An overview is given about the regulatory effects of methylation, phosphorlation and phage-induced cleavage of EF-Tu on its function. During exponential growth, EF-Tu becomes monomethylated at Lys56 which is converted to Me2Lys upon entering the stationary phase. Lys56 is in the GTPase switch-1 regions (residues 49–62), a strongly conserved site involved in interactions with the nucleotide and the 5′ end of tRNA. Methylation was found to attenuate GTP hydrolysis and may thus enhance translational accuracy.In vivo 5–10% of EF-Tu is phosphorylated at Thr382 by a ribosome-associated kinase. In EF-Tu-GTP, Thr382 in domain 3 has a strategic position in the interface with domain 1; it is hydrogen-bonded to Glu117 that takes part in the switch-2 mechanism, and is close to the T-stem binding site of the tRNA, in a region known for many kirromycin-resistance mutations. Phosphorylation is enhanced by EF-Ts, but inhibited by kirromycin. In reverse, phosphorylated EF-Tu has an increased affinity for EF-Ts, does not bind kirromycin and can no longer bind aminoacyl tRNA. Thein vivo role of this reversibles modification is still a matter of speculation. T4 infection ofE. coli may trigger a phage-exclusion mechanism by activation of Lit, a host-encoded proteinase. As a result, EF-Tu is cleaved site-specifically between Gly59-Ile60 in the switch-1 region. Translation was found to drop beyond a minimum level. Interestingly, the identical sequence in the related EF-G appeared to remain fully intact. Although the Lit cleavage-mechanism may eventually lead to programmed cell death, the very efficient prevention of phage multiplication may be caused by a novel mechanisms ofin cis inhibition of late T4 mRNA translation.


Elongation Factor Effector Region Inactive Conformation Elongation Cycle Trimethyllysine 
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Copyright information

© Institute of Microbiology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biochemistry, LICLeiden UniversityLeidenNetherlands
  2. 2.Institute of BiochemistryFree University BerlinGermany
  3. 3.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of East AngliaNorwichUK

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