Xu J, Croitoru V, Rutishauser D, Cheng Q, Arnér ES
Nucleic Acids Res. 41 (21) 9800-9811 [2013-11-00; online 2013-08-29]
Selenoprotein expression in Escherichia coli redefines specific single UGA codons from translational termination to selenocysteine (Sec) insertion. This process requires the presence of a Sec Insertion Sequence (SECIS) in the mRNA, which forms a secondary structure that binds a unique Sec-specific elongation factor that catalyzes Sec insertion at the predefined UGA instead of release factor 2-mediated termination. During overproduction of recombinant selenoproteins, this process nonetheless typically results in expression of UGA-truncated products together with the production of recombinant selenoproteins. Here, we found that premature termination can be fully avoided through a SECIS-dependent Sec-mediated suppression of UGG, thereby yielding either tryptophan or Sec insertion without detectable premature truncation. The yield of recombinant selenoprotein produced with this method approached that obtained with a classical UGA codon for Sec insertion. Sec-mediated suppression of UGG thus provides a novel method for selenoprotein production, as here demonstrated with rat thioredoxin reductase. The results also reveal that the E. coli selenoprotein synthesis machinery has the inherent capability to promote wobble decoding.