Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Molecular biology

Genetic code seizes pyrrolysine

Identification of the enzyme that mediates insertion of a rare amino acid, pyrrolysine, into protein solves a puzzle and expands the rules of the genetic code established nearly half a century ago.

Your institute does not have access to this article

Access options

Figure 1: RNA structures signal incorporation of non-canonical amino acids.


  1. Blight, S. K. et al. Nature 431, 333–335 (2004).

    ADS  CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. Thorson, J. S. et al. Methods Mol. Biol. 77, 43–73 (1998).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. Hao, B. et al. Science 296, 1462–1466 (2002).

    ADS  CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. Srinivasan, G., James, C. M. & Krzycki, J. A. Science 296, 1459–1462 (2002).

    ADS  CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Polycarpo, C. et al. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 101, 12450–12454 (2004).

    ADS  CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Anderson, J. C. & Schultz, P. G. Biochemistry 42, 9598–9608 (2003).

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Hatfield, D. L. & Gladyshev, V. N. Mol. Cell. Biol. 22, 3565–3576 (2002).

    CAS  Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  8. Polycarpo, C. et al. Mol. Cell 12, 287–294 (2003).

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. Namy, O., Rousset, J. P., Napthine, S. & Brierley, I. Mol. Cell 13, 157–168 (2004).

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. Rother, M., Wilting, R., Commans, S. & Böck, A. J. Mol. Biol. 299, 351–358 (2000).

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. Mandal, M. & Breaker, R. R. Nature Rev. Mol. Cell Biol. 5, 451–463 (2004).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Schimmel, P., Beebe, K. Genetic code seizes pyrrolysine. Nature 431, 257–258 (2004).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing