EF-Tu delivers aminoacyl-tRNAs to ribosomes in the translation system. However, unusual truncations found in some animal mitochondrial tRNAs seem to prevent recognition by a canonical EF-Tu. We showed previously that the chromadorean nematode has two distinct EF-Tus, one of which (EF-Tu1) binds only to T-armless aminoacyl-tRNAs and the other (EF-Tu2) binds to D-armless Ser-tRNAs. Neither of the EF-Tus can bind to canonical cloverleaf tRNAs. In this study, by analyzing the translation system of enoplean nematode Trichinella species, we address how EF-Tus and tRNAs have evolved from the canonical structures toward those of the chromadorean translation system. Trichinella mitochondria possess three types of tRNAs: cloverleaf tRNAs, which do not exist in chromadorean nematode mitochondria; T-armless tRNAs; and D-armless tRNAs. We found two mitochondrial EF-Tu species, EF-Tu1 and EF-Tu2, in Trichinella britovi. T.britovi EF-Tu2 could bind to only D-armless Ser-tRNA, as Caenorhabditis elegans EF-Tu2 does. In contrast to the case of C.elegans EF-Tu1, however, T.britovi EF-Tu1 bound to all three types of tRNA present in Trichinella mitochondria. These results suggest that Trichinella mitochondrial translation system, and particularly the tRNA-binding specificity of EF-Tu1, could be an intermediate state between the canonical system and the chromadorean nematode mitochondrial system.
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