Design of carrier tRNAs and selection of four-base codons for efficient incorporation of various nonnatural amino acids into proteins in Spodoptera frugiperda 21 (Sf21) insect cell-free translation system

Masumi Taki, Yasunori Tokuda, Takashi Ohtsuki, Masahiko Sisido

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Citations (Scopus)


Spodoptera frugiperda 21 (Sf21) insect cell-free protein synthesizing system was expanded to include nonnatural amino acids. Orthogonal tRNAs that work as carriers of nonnatural amino acids in the insect system were explored. Four-base codons for assigning the positions of nonnatural amino acids were also selected. Mutated streptavidin mRNAs that contained different four-base codons were prepared and added to the insect cell-free system in the presence of various tRNAs possessing the corresponding four-base anticodons. The tRNAs were chemically aminoacylated with various types of nonnatural amino acids to examine their incorporation efficiencies. Using p-nitrophenylalanine as the nonnatural amino acid and streptavidin as the target protein, tRNA sequences and the types of four-base codons were optimized to maximize the yield of the nonnatural mutant and to minimize production of full-length proteins that do not contain the nonnatural amino acid. Among the tRNA sequences taken from a variety of tRNAs of nonstandard structures, the tRNA derived from Methanosarcina acetivorans tRNAPyl was the most efficient and orthogonal tRNA. Of the CGGN-type four-base codons, CGGA and CGGG were the most efficient ones for assigning the positions of nonnatural amino acids. p-Nitrophenylalanine and 2-naphthylalanine were efficiently incorporated as in the case of Escherichia coli and rabbit reticulocyte cell-free systems. Much less efficient incorporation was observed, however, for other nonnatural amino acids, indicating that the insect system is less tolerant to the structural diversity of amino acids than the E. coli cell-free system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)511-517
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Bioscience and Bioengineering
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2006



  • Spodoptera frugiperda 21 (Sf21) cell lysate
  • cell-free translation
  • four-base codon
  • nonnatural amino acid
  • orthogonal tRNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

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