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Elongation factor P is modified with (R)‐β‐lysine by the lysyl‐tRNA synthetase (LysRS) paralog PoxA. PoxA specificity is orthogonal to LysRS, despite their high similarity. To investigate α‐ and β‐lysine recognition by LysRS and PoxA, amino acid replacements were made in the LysRS active site guided by the PoxA structure. A233S LysRS behaved as wild type with α‐lysine, while the G469A and A233S/G469A variants decreased stable α‐lysyl‐adenylate formation. A233S LysRS recognized β‐lysine better than wildtype, suggesting a role for this residue in discriminating α‐ and β‐amino acids. Both enantiomers of β‐lysine were substrates for tRNA aminoacylation by LysRS, which, together with the relaxed specificity of the A233S variant, suggest a possible means to develop systems for in vivo co‐translational insertion of β‐amino acids.


This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in FEBS Letters, volume 585, in 2011 following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online at


Federation of European Biochemical Societies



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