The ribosomes stalled at the end of non-stop mRNAs must be rescued for productive cycles of cellular protein synthesis. Escherichia coli possesses at least three independent mechanisms that resolve non-productive translation complexes (NTCs). While tmRNA (SsrA) mediates trans-translation to terminate translation, ArfA (YhdL) and ArfB (YaeJ) induce hydrolysis of ribosome-tethered peptidyl-tRNAs. ArfB is a paralogue of the release factors (RFs) and directly catalyses the peptidyl-tRNA hydrolysis within NTCs. In contrast, the mechanism of the ArfA action had remained obscure beyond its ability to bind to the ribosome. Here, we characterized the ArfA pathway of NTC resolution in vitro and identified RF2 as a factor that cooperates with ArfA to hydrolyse peptidyl-tRNAs located in the P-site of the stalled ribosome. This reaction required the GGQ (Gly-Gly-Gln) hydrolysis motif, but not the SPF (Ser-Pro-Phe) codon-recognition sequence, of RF2 and was stimulated by tRNAs. From these results we suggest that ArfA binds to the vacant A-site of the stalled ribosome with possible aid from association with a tRNA, and then recruits RF2, which hydrolyses peptidyl-tRNA in a GGQ motif-dependent but codon-independent manner. In support of this model, the ArfA-RF2 pathway did not act on the SecM-arrested ribosome, which contains an aminoacyl-tRNA in the A-site.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology