Pulvomycin-resistant mutants of E.coli elongation factor Tu

Leo A.H. Leo, Leendert Bosch, Pieter H. Anborgh, Rengul Cetin, Andrea Parmeggiani, Rolf Hilgenfeld

28 Citations (Scopus)


This paper reports the generation of Escherichia coli mutants resistant to pulvomycin. Together with targeted mutagenesis of the tufA gene, conditions were found to overcome membrane impermeability, thereby allowing the selection of three mutants harbouring elongation factor (EF)-Tu Arg230 → Cys, Arg333 → Cys or Thr334 → Ala which confer pulvomycin resistance. These mutations are clustered in the three-domain junction interface of the crystal structure of the GTP form of Thermus thermophilus EF-Tu. This result shares similarities with kirromycin resistance; kirromycin-resistant mutations cluster in the domain 1-3 interface. Since both interface regions are involved in the EF-Tu switch mechanism, we propose that pulvomycin and kirromycin both act by specifically disturbing the allosteric changes required for the switch from EF-Tu.GTP to EF-Tu.GDP. The three-domain junction changes dramatically in the switch to EF-Tu.GDP; in EF-Tu.GDP this region forms an open hole. Structural analysis of the mutation positions in EF-Tu.GTP indicated that the two most highly resistant mutants, R230C and R333C, are part of an electrostatic network involving numerous residues. All three mutations appear to destabilize the EF-Tu.GTP conformation. Genetic and protein characterizations show that sensitivity to pulvomycin is dominant over resistance. This appears to contradict the currently accepted model of protein synthesis inhibition by pulvomycin.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEMBO Journal
Issue number21
Pages (from-to)5113-5120
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 1994

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Infection and Inflammation Research (ZIEL)


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