Histidyl-tRNA synthetase (HARS) is a highly conserved translation factor that plays an essential role in protein synthesis. HARS has been implicated in the human syndromes Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) Type 2W and Type IIIB Usher (USH3B). The USH3B mutation, which encodes a Y454S substitution in HARS, is inherited in an autosomal recessive fashion and associated with childhood deafness, blindness, and episodic hallucinations during acute illness. The biochemical basis of the pathophysiologies linked to USH3B is currently unknown. Here, we present a detailed functional comparison of wild-type (WT) and Y454S HARS enzymes. Kinetic parameters for enzymes and canonical substrates were determined using both steady state and rapid kinetics. Enzyme stability was examined using differential scanning fluorimetry. Finally, enzyme functionality in a primary cell culture was assessed. Our results demonstrate that the Y454S substitution leaves HARS amino acid activation, aminoacylation, and tRNAHis binding functions largely intact compared with those of WT HARS, and the mutant enzyme dimerizes like the wild type does. Interestingly, during our investigation, it was revealed that the kinetics of amino acid activation differs from that of the previously characterized bacterial HisRS. Despite the similar kinetics, differential scanning fluorimetry revealed that Y454S is less thermally stable than WT HARS, and cells from Y454S patients grown at elevated temperatures demonstrate diminished levels of protein synthesis compared to those of WT cells. The thermal sensitivity associated with the Y454S mutation represents a biochemical basis for understanding USH3B.
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