Molecular dynamics simulations suggest a non-doublet decoding model of –1 frameshifting by tRNAser3

Thomas Caulfield, Matt Coban, Alex Tek, Samuel Coulbourn Flores

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


In-frame decoding in the ribosome occurs through canonical or wobble Watson–Crick pairing of three mRNA codon bases (a triplet) with a triplet of anticodon bases in tRNA. Departures from the triplet–triplet interaction can result in frameshifting, meaning downstream mRNA codons are then read in a different register. There are many mechanisms to induce frameshifting, and most are insufficiently understood. One previously proposed mechanism is doublet decoding, in which only codon bases 1 and 2 are read by anticodon bases 34 and 35, which would lead to –1 frameshifting. In E. coli, tRNASer3GCU can induce –1 frameshifting at alanine (GCA) codons. The logic of the doublet decoding model is that the Ala codon’s GC could pair with the tRNASer3′s GC, leaving the third anticodon residue U36 making no interactions with mRNA. Under that model, a U36C mutation would still induce –1 frameshifting, but experiments refute this. We perform all-atom simulations of wild-type tRNASer3, as well as a U36C mutant. Our simulations revealed a hydrogen bond between U36 of the anticodon and G1 of the codon. The U36C mutant cannot make this interaction, as it lacks the hydrogen-bond-donating H3. The simulation thus suggests a novel, non-doublet decoding mechanism for −1 frameshifting by tRNASer3 at Ala codons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number745
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2019


  • Doublet decoding
  • Ribosome
  • S13
  • −1 frameshifting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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