Probing the Substrate Requirements of the InVitro Geranylation Activity of Selenouridine Synthase (SelU). Academic Article uri icon


  • Natural RNA modifications diversify the structures and functions of existing nucleic acid building blocks. Geranyl is one of the most hydrophobic groups recently identified in bacterial tRNAs. Selenouridine synthase (SelU, also called mnmH) is an enzyme with a dual activity which catalyzes selenation and geranylation in tRNAs containing 2-thiouridine using selenophosphate or geranyl-pyrophosphate as cofactors. In this study, we explored the invitro geranylation process of tRNA anticodon stem loops (ASL) mediated by SelU and showed that the geranylation activity was abolished when U35 was mutated to A35 (ASL-tRNALys (s2U)UU to ASL-tRNAIle (s2U)AU ). By examining the SelU cofactor geranyl-pyrophosphate (gePP) and its analogues, we found that only the geranyl group, but not dimethylallyl- and farnesyl-pyrophosphate with either shorter or longer terpene chains, could be incorporated into ASL. The degree of tRNA geranylation in the end-point analysis for SelU follows the order of ASLLys (s2UUU) ASLGln (s2UUG) >ASLGlu (s2UUC) . These findings suggest a putative mechanism for substrate discrimination by SelU and reveal key factors that might influence its enzymatic activity. Given that SelU plays an important role in bacterial translation systems, inhibiting this enzyme and targeting its geranylation and selenation pathways could be exploited as a promising strategy to develop SelU-based antibiotics.

published proceedings

  • Chembiochem

author list (cited authors)

  • Haruehanroengra, P., Zheng, Y. Y., Ma, G., Lan, T., Hassan, A., Zhou, Y., & Sheng, J.

complete list of authors

  • Haruehanroengra, Phensinee||Zheng, Ya Ying||Ma, Guolin||Lan, Tien-Hung||Hassan, Abdalla EA||Zhou, Yubin||Sheng, Jia

publication date

  • August 2022