Site-Specific Profiling of 4-Thiouridine Across Transfer RNA Genes in Escherichia coli

Praneeth Bommisetti, Vahe Bandarian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The transfer RNA (tRNA) modification 4-thiouridine (s4U) acts as a near-ultraviolet (UVA) radiation sensor in Escherichia coli (E. coli), where it induces a growth delay upon exposure to the UVA radiation (∼310-400 nm). Herein, we report sequencing methodology for site-specific profiling of s4U modification in E. coli tRNAs. Upon the addition of iodoacetamide (IA) or iodoacetyl-PEG2-biotin (BIA), the nucleophilic sulfur of s4U forms a reaction product that is extensively characterized by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) analysis. This method is readily applied to the alkylation of natively occurring s4U on E. coli tRNA. Next-generation sequencing of BIA-treated tRNA from E. coli revealed misincorporations at position 8 in 19 of the 20 amino acid tRNA species. Alternatively, tRNA from the ΔthiI strain, which cannot introduce the s4U modification, does not exhibit any misincorporation at the corresponding positions, directly linking the base transitions and the tRNA modification. Independently, the s4U modification on E. coli tRNA was further validated by LC-MS/MS sequencing. Nuclease digestion of wild-type and deletion strains E. coli tRNA with RNase T1 generated smaller s4U/U containing fragments that could be analyzed by MS/MS analysis for modification assignment. Furthermore, RNase T1 digestion of tRNAs treated either with IA or BIA showed the specificity of iodoacetamide reagents toward s4U in the context of complex tRNA modifications. Overall, these results demonstrate the utility of the alkylation of s4U in the site-specific profiling of the modified base in native cellular tRNA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4011-4025
Number of pages15
JournalACS Omega
Issue number5
StatePublished - Feb 8 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)


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