Biochemistry Seminar: Eric Westhof

Throughout the academic year, the Department of Biochemistry invites professors from other universities and institutes to speak at the University of Colorado Boulder. These seminars provide an opportunity for faculty and students to learn about exciting current research at other universities.

Come out and meet Dr. Eric Westhof during his seminar. 

Dr. Westhof serves as a Professor in the Department of Structural Biochemistry at the University of Strasbourg.

Title: "tRNA Modifications in decoding and miscoding"


Ribosomal translation occurs through complex molecular interaction networks between mRNA, tRNA, and rRNA. Among those, the stability of codon-anticodon triplets, the conformation of the anticodon stem-loop of tRNA, the modified nucleotides, and the interactions with bases of rRNA at the decoding site form key contributors. Because the cellular activities of several enzymatic complexes are required for the maintenance of active ribosomes as well as of the pool of matured and modified tRNAs, ribosomal translation is intimately integrated within the biochemical, metabolic and cellular evolution processes in extant organisms. On the basis of many crystal structures of fully active ribosomes, nucleotide modifications, especially at positions 34 and 37 of the anticodon loop, are now better understood molecularly. Depending on the codon box, the modifications stabilize AU-rich codon-anticodon pairs and maintain the coding frame. They also contribute to the decoding of purine-ending codons in split codon boxes and help to avoid miscoding. Overall, the tRNA modifications allow for diversity in codon usage depending on genomic GC content as well as on the number and types of isoacceptor tRNAs. Although universal, the genetic code is not translated identically and differences exist not only between organisms in the three kingdoms of life but also between cellular types. Examples of mutations that lead to specific human diseases in some of those enzymes will be described.


Demeshkina, N., Jenner, L., Westhof, E., Yusupov, M. and Yusupova, G. (2012) A new understanding of the decoding principle on the ribosome. Nature 484, 256.

Grosjean, H. and Westhof, E. (2016) An integrated, structure- and energy-based view of the genetic code. Nucleic Acids Res. 44, 8020.

Rozov, A., Wolff, P., Grosjean, H., Yusupov, M., Yusupova, G. and Westhof, E. (2018) Tautomeric G*U pairs within the molecular ribosomal grip and fidelity of decoding in bacteria. Nucleic Acids Res.  46, 7425.

This Seminar is hosted by Dr. Thomas Cech and the Department of Biochemistry. For more information about the seminar or Dr. Westhof's schedule, please email Dr. Thomas Cech.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at 3:30pm to 4:30pm

Jennie Smoly Caruthers Biotec Building, Butcher Auditorium
3415 Colorado Avenue, Boulder, CO 80309

Event Type

Lecture/Presentation, Colloquium/Seminar


Science & Technology, Research & Innovation


Students, Faculty, General Public, Postdoc

College, School & Unit

Arts & Sciences



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