Discriminating Right from Wrong

Science  05 Oct 2001:
Vol. 294, Issue 5540, pp. 70-71
DOI: 10.1126/science.1066106

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The cell has devised numerous quality controls to ensure the fidelity of protein synthesis. In his Perspective, Ibba describes a new form of quality control in the unlikely guise of elongation factor Tu (EF-Tu), the protein that delivers amino-acyl tRNAs to the ribosome. EF-Tu binds to all amino-acyl tRNAs over a wide range of affinities, whether the tRNAs are carrying the correct amino acid or not. But EF-Tu is able to discriminate between correctly charged and mischarged amino-acyl tRNAs through thermodynamic compensation (i.e., by detecting whether the separate amino acid and tRNA moieties of each amino-acyl tRNA have a strong and weak binding component that compensate for each other).