“The authors present an impressive example of the new, emerging deep biology of transfer RNAs, which translate the genetic code in all living organisms to create proteins,” says Paul Schimmel, a professor of cell and molecular biology at the Scripps Research Institute, who was not involved in the research. “This long-known function was viewed in a simple, straightforward way for decades. They present a powerful, comprehensive analysis to show there are layers and layers, ever deeper, to this function of translation.”
The researchers also showed that when they swapped different threonine codons into the genomic locations where ACG is usually found, the bacterial cells failed to enter a dormant state when oxygen levels were diminished. Because making this tRNA modification switch is critical to bacterial cells‘ ability to respond to stress, the enzymes responsible for this switch could make good targets for new antibiotics, Dedon says.