Using singlet-singlet energy transfer, we have measured the distance between the anticodons of two transfer RNAs simultaneously bound to a messengerprogramed Escherichia coli 70 S ribosome. The fluorescent Y base adjacent to the anticodon of yeast tRNAY Phe serves as a donor. A proflavine (Pf) chemically substituted for the Y base in tRNAPf Phe serves as an acceptor. By exploiting the sequential binding properties of 70 S ribosomes for two deacylated tRNAs, we can fill the strong site with either tRNAY Phe or tRNAPf Phe and then the weak site with the other tRNA. In both cases donor quenching and sensitized emission of the acceptor are observed. Analysis of these results leads to an estimate for the Y-proflavine distance of 18 ± 2 Å. This distance is very short and suggests strongly that the two tRNAs are simultaneously in contact with adjacent codons of the message. Separate experiments show that binding of a tRNA to the weak site does not perturb the environment of the hypermodified base of a tRNA bound to the strong site. This supports the assignment of the strong site as the peptidyl site. It also indicates that binding of the second tRNA proceeds without a change in the anticodon structure of a pre-existing tRNA at the peptidyl site.
ASJC Scopus subject areas