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Mechulam Yves


Office : 84:30-18
Telephone : +33169334885
Department/Laboratory/Direction : CA/DER/LAB/BIOC
Additional function :

Biography and Current Works


Chercheur et enseignant.

  • 1983:                 Engineer of Ecole Polytechnique.
  • 1983-1987:       Master and PhD from Université Paris 7. Laboratoire de Biochimie, Ecole Polytechnique, 91120 Palaiseau. (Genetic expression of the pheST-himA operon in E. coli).  Supervisor : Dr. Guy FAYAT.
  • 1988-1992:       CNRS research scientist 2nd class (junior scientist).
  • 1992-1998:       CNRS research scientist 1st class.
  • 1998-2011:       CNRS senior research scientist 2nd class
  • 2011-present :   CNRS senior research scientist 1st class
  • Laboratoire de Biochimie, Ecole Polytechnique, 91120 Palaiseau (+33 1 69 33 48 85).
  • Since 2009 : Director of Laboratoire de Biochimie, CNRS-Ecole Polytechnique
  • Since 1993: Lecturer, then assistant professor, then associate professor at Ecole Polytechnique (part-time).
  • 2011-2017 : Chairman of the Biology Department, Ecole Polytechnique.

    - Award Jacques Monod 1987 by the « Fondation de France ».

    - Award Nine Choucroun 1989 by the « Institut de Biologie Physico-Chimique » (Paris).


    2011-present : Member of the Scientific Advisory Council of SOLEIL synchrotron.

    2002-present: Member of the committee of the Biology department of Ecole Polytechnique.  Chairman of the department between 2011 and 2017.

    2010-2011 : Chairman of a ParisTech work group about multidisciplinary research  and education in Biology.

    2007-2016 : Member of the theses committee of the doctoral school of Ecole Polytechnique.

    May-September 2005 : Chairman of a competition for hiring two CNRS technicians.

    2001-2005: Member of the scientific council of the Laue-Langevin Institute (Grenoble).

    2004-2010 : Member of the peer-review committee for access to the deuteriation facility (ILL-EMBL Grenoble).

    1997-2001: Member of the BIOLOGY peer-review committee of the "Laboratoire pour l'Utilisation du Rayonnement Electromagnétique" (Orsay).


-    Professor in charge of Biology in the third year (Master 1) of Ecole Polytechnique.

-    Professor in charge of research internships in Biology.

-    Professor in charge of experimental teaching in Biology at Ecole Polytechnique.

-    Experimental teaching in the Master 2 "Engineering and Chemistry of Biomolecules". Université Paris-Saclay.

-   2003-2015: Joint manager of the Master « Molecular and Cellular Biology » of Ecole Polytechnique, joint with Paris11, Paris5, ENS Cachan, CEA/INSTN.

-    Since 2015: Member of the board of the " Biology and Health " master. Université Paris-Saclay.


Main research interest: Structure and function of the translational machinery (see Team webpage).

Main Publications and Links


Y. Mechulam, G. Fayat and S. Blanquet. Sequence of the Escherichia coli pheST operon: identification of the himA gene.

J. Bacteriol. (1985) 163, 787-791.


Y. Mechulam, M. Fromant, P. Mellot, P. Plateau, S. Blanchin-Roland, G. Fayat and S. Blanquet. Molecular cloning of the Escherichia coli gene for diadenosine 5'-5'''-P1, P4- tetraphosphate pyrophosphohydrolase. J. Bacteriol. (1985) 164, 63-69.

J.M. Schmitter, Y. Mechulam, G. Fayat and M. Anselme. Rapid purification of DNA fragments by size-exclusion high-performance chromatography. 

Journal of Chromatography. (1986) 378, 462-466.


Y. Mechulam, S. Blanquet, and G. Fayat. Dual level control of the Escherichia coli pheST-himA operon expression: attenuation and transcriptional operator-repressor control by  himA and the SOS network.

J. Mol. Biol.  (1987) 197, 453-470.


Ph.H. Hirel, F. Lévêque, P. Mellot, F. Dardel, M. Panvert, Y. Mechulam and G. Fayat. Genetic engineering of methionyl-tRNA synthetase: in vitro regeneration of an active synthetase by proteolytic cleavage of a methionyl-tRNA synthetase-ß-galactosidase chimeric protein.

Biochimie. (1988) 70, 773-782.


T. Meinnel, Y. Mechulam and G. Fayat. Fast purification of a functional elongator tRNAmet expressed from a synthetic gene in vivo.

Nucleic Acids Res. (1988) 16, 8095-8096.


P. Mellot, Y. Mechulam, D. Le Corre, S. Blanquet and G. Fayat. Identification of an aminoacid region supporting specific methionyl-tRNA synthetase:tRNA recognition.

J. Mol. Biol.  (1989) 208, 429-443.


T. Meinnel, Y. Mechulam, F. Dardel, C. Hountondji, J.M. Schmitter, S. Brunie, P. Dessen,  G. Fayat and S. Blanquet. Methionyl-tRNA synthetase from E. coli: A review.

Biochimie. (1990), 72, 625-632.


Y. Mechulam, F. Dardel, D. LeCorre, S. Blanquet and G. Fayat. Lys 335, part of the KMSKS signature sequence plays a crucial role in the aminoacid activation catalyzed by the E. coli methionyl-tRNA synthetase.

J. Mol. Biol. (1991) 217, 265-275.


T. Meinnel, Y. Mechulam, D. LeCorre, M. Panvert, S. Blanquet and G. Fayat. Selection of suppressor methionyl-tRNA synthetases: mapping the tRNA anticodon binding site.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA (1991) 88, 291-295.


Mechulam Y., Schmitt E., Panvert M., Schmitter J.M., Lapadat-Tapolsky M., Meinnel T., Dessen P., Blanquet S. & Fayat G. Methionyl-tRNA synthetase from Bacillus stearothermophilus: structural and functional identities with the Escherichia coli enzyme.

Nucleic Acids Res. (1991) 19:3673-3681.


Meinnel T., Mechulam Y.,  Blanquet S. & Fayat G.

Binding of the anticodon domain of tRNAfMet to E.coli methionyl-tRNA synthetase

J. Mol. Biol. (1991), 220, 205-208.


Fourmy D.,  Mechulam Y.,  Brunie S., Blanquet S. & Fayat G.

Identification of residues involved in the binding of methionine by E.coli methionyl-tRNA synthetase

FEBS Letters (1991), 292, 259-263.


Guillon J.M., Meinnel T., Mechulam Y., Lazennec C., Blanquet S. & Fayat G.

Nucleotides of tRNA governing the specificity of Escherichia coli methionyl-tRNAMetf formyltransferase

J. Mol. Biol. (1992), 224, 359-367.


Meinnel T., Schmitt E., Mechulam Y.,  & Blanquet S.

Structural and biochemical characterization of the argE gene product from Escherichia coli

J. Bacteriol. (1992), 174, 2323-2331.


Guillon J.M., MechulamY., Schmitter J.M., Blanquet S. & Fayat G.

Disruption of the gene for methionyl-tRNAMetf formyltransferase severely impairs growth of Escherichia coli

J. Bacteriol.  (1992), 174, 4294-4301.


Meinnel T., Mechulam Y., Fayat, G. & Blanquet S.

Involvement of the size and sequence of the anticodon loop in tRNA recognition by mammalian and E. coli methionyl-tRNA synthetases.

Nucleic Acids Res. (1992), 20, 4741-4746.


Meinnel T., Mechulam Y., Lazennec C., Blanquet S. & Fayat G.

Critical role of the acceptor stem of tRNAsMet in their aminoacylation by E. coli methionyl-tRNA synthetase.

J. Mol. Biol. (1993), 229, 26-36.


T. Meinnel, J.M. Guillon, Y. Mechulam , S. Blanquet

Structure et activité biologique : l'exemple des acides ribonucléiques de transfert dans la traduction du message génétique en protéine.

Revue Scientifique et Technique de la Défense (1993), 1, 167-174.


Meinnel T.,Guillon, J.M., Mechulam Y. & Blanquet S.

Escherichia coli fmt gene for methionyl-tRNAMetf formyltransferase escapes metabolic control.

J. Bacteriol. (1993), 175,993-1000.


D. Fourmy, T. Meinnel, Y. Mechulam, S. Blanquet

Mapping of the zinc binding domain of Escherichia coli methionyl-tRNA synthetase.

J.Mol.Biol. (1993), 231, 1068-1077.


E. Schmitt, T. Meinnel, M. Panvert, Y. Mechulam, S. Blanquet

Two acidic residues of E.coli methionyl-tRNA synthetases act as negative discriminants towards the binding of non-cognate tRNA anticodons.

J.Mol.Biol. (1993), 233, 615-628.


J.M. Guillon, Y. Mechulam, S. Blanquet, G. Fayat

Role of formylability and of the anticodon stem sequence to give a tRNAMet an initiator identity in Escherichia coli.

J. Bacteriol. (1993), 175, 4507-4514.


S. Dutka, T. Meinnel, C. Lazennec, Y. Mechulam, S. Blanquet

Role of the 1-72 base pair in tRNAs for the activity of Escherichia coli peptidyl-tRNA hydrolase.

Nucleic Acids Res. (1993), 21, 4025-4030.


T. Meinnel, Y. Mechulam , S. Blanquet

Methionine as translation start signal : a review of the enzymes of the pathway in Escherichia coli.

Biochimie (1993), 75, 1061-1075.


E. Schmitt, T. Meinnel, S. Blanquet & Y. Mechulam

Methionyl-tRNA synthetase needs an intact and mobile 332KMSKS336 motif in catalysis of methionyl adenylate formation.

J. Mol. Biol. , 242, 566-577.


T. Meinnel, Y. Mechulam & S. Blanquet

Aminoacyl-tRNA  synthetases : occurrence, structure and function

In Transfer RNAs, D. Söll & U. RajBhandary (ed.). American Society for

Microbiology, Washington, D.C. (1995), pp 251-292, revue invitée.


Y. Mechulam, T. Meinnel & S. Blanquet

A family of RNA-binding protein : the aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases.

In Subcellular Biochemistry : structure, function and protein engineering. B.B.Biswas & S. Roy (eds). Plenum Press, London (1994), pp 323-376, revue invitée.


D. Fourmy, Y. Mechulam and S. Blanquet

Crucial role of an idiosyncratic insertion in the Rossman fold of class 1 aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases

Biochemistry (1995), 34, 15681-15688.


E. Schmitt, M. Panvert, S. Blanquet and Y. Mechulam

Transition state stabilization by the HIGH motif of class 1 aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases: the case of Escherichia coli  methionyl-tRNA synthetase.

Nucleic Acids Res. (1995) 23, 4793-4798.


E. Schmitt, Y. Mechulam, M. Ruff, A. Mitschler, D. Moras and S. Blanquet

Crystallization and preliminary X-ray analysis of Escherichia coli  methionyl-tRNAfMet formyltransferase.

Proteins (1996) 25, 139-141.


E. Schmitt, S. Blanquet & Y. Mechulam

Structure of crystalline Escherichia coli methionyl-tRNAMetf formyltransferase : comparison with glycinamide ribonucleotide formyltransferase.

EMBO J. (1996) 15, 4749-4758.


J.M. Guillon, S. Heiss, J. Suturina, Y. Mechulam, S. Laalami, M. Grunberg-Manago and S. Blanquet

Interplay of methionine tRNAs with translation elongation factor Tu and translation initiation factor 2 in Escherichia coli.

J.Biol.Chem. (1996) 271, 22321-22325.


E. Schmitt, J.M. Guillon, T. Meinnel, Y. Mechulam, F. Dardel, S. Blanquet

Molecular recognition governing the initiation of translation in Escherichia coli.

Biochimie (1996) 78, 543-554.


N. Murali, Y. Lin, Y. Mechulam, P. Plateau and B.D.N. Rao

Adenosine conformations of nucleotides bound to methionyl-tRNA synthetase by transferred nuclear overhauser effect spectroscopy.

Biophys. J. (1997) 70, 2275-2284.


E. Schmitt, M. Fromant, P. Plateau, Y. Mechulam and S. Blanquet

Crystallization and preliminary X-ray analysis of Escherichia coli peptidyl-tRNA hydrolase.

Proteins (1997) 28, 135-136.


E. Schmitt, Y. Mechulam, M. Fromant, P. Plateau and S. Blanquet

Crystal structure at 1.2 Å resolution and active site mapping of Escherichia coli peptidyl-tRNA hydrolase.

EMBO J. (1997) 16, 4760-4769.


E. Schmitt, M. Panvert, Y. Mechulam and S. Blanquet

Structure function properties of bacterial methionyl-tRNA synthetases

Eur.J.Biochem. (1997) 246, 539-547.


E. Schmitt, M. Panvert, S. Blanquet, Y. Mechulam. Crystal structure of methionyl-tRNAfMet transformylase complexed with the initiator formyl-methionyl-tRNAfMet.

EMBO J. (1998) 17, 6819-6826.


E. Schmitt, S. Blanquet and Y. Mechulam. Crystallization and preliminary X-ray analysis of Escherichia coli methionyl-tRNAfMet transformylase complexed with formyl-methionyl-tRNAfMet. Acta Cryst. (1999) D55, 332-334.


M. Fromant, P. Plateau, E. Schmitt, Y. Mechulam and S. Blanquet. Receptor site for the 5'-phosphate of elongator tRNAs governs substrate selection by peptidyl-tRNA synthetase.

Biochemistry (1999) 38, 4982-4987.


Y. Mechulam, E. Schmitt, L. Maveyraud, C. Zelwer, O. Nureki, S. Yokoyama, M. Konno and S. Blanquet. Crystal structure of E.coli methionyl-tRNA synthetase highlights species-specific features. J.Mol.Biol. (1999) 294, 1287-1297.


S. Blanquet, Y. Mechulam and E. Schmitt. The many routes of bacterial transfer RNAs after aminoacylation. Current Opin. Struct. Biol.  (2000), 10, 95-101.


N. Takeuchi, L. Vial , M. Panvert, E. Schmitt, K. Watanabe, Y. Mechulam and S. Blanquet.

Recognition of tRNAs by Methionyl-tRNA transformylase from mammalian mitochondria.

J. Biol. Chem. (2001), 276, 20064-20068.


M.L. Ferri-Fioni, E. Schmitt, J. Soutourina, P. Plateau, Y. Mechulam and S. Blanquet.

Structure of crystalline D-Tyr-tRNA(Tyr) deacylase. A representative of a new class of tRNA-dependent hydrolases. J. Biol. Chem. (2001), 276, 47285-47290.


E. Schmitt, S. Blanquet and Y. Mechulam. The large subunit of initiation factor aIF2 is a close structural homologue of elongation factors. EMBO J. (2002), 21, 1821-1832.


T. Crepin, E. Schmitt, S. Blanquet and Y. Mechulam. Structure and function of the C-terminal domain of methionyl-tRNA synthetase. Biochemistry (2002), 41, 13003-13011.


S. Blanquet, Y. Mechulam, E. Schmitt  and L. Vial.

Aminoacyl-transfer RNA maturation. In Translation Mechanisms. J. Lapointe and L. Brakier-Gingras Eds. Landes Biosciences. (2003) pp. 65-79.


L. Vial, P. Gomez, M. Panvert, E. Schmitt, S. Blanquet and Y. Mechulam. Mitochondrial methionyl-tRNAfMet formyltransferase from Saccharomyces cerevisiae: gene disruption and tRNA substrate specificity. Biochemistry (2003), 42, 932-939.


T.Crepin, E. Schmitt, Y. Mechulam, P.B. Sampson, M.D. Vaughan, J.F. Honek and S. Blanquet. Use of Analogues of Methionine and Methionyl Adenylate to Sample Conformational Changes During Catalysis in Escherichia coli Methionyl-tRNA Synthetase. J. Mol. Biol. (2003), 332, 59-72.


T.Crepin, E. Schmitt, S. Blanquet and Y. Mechulam . Three-dimensional structure of methionyl-tRNA synthetase from Pyrococcus abyssi. Biochemistry (2004), 43, 2635-2644.


L. Yatime, E. Schmitt, S. Blanquet  and Y.Mechulam. Functional molecular mapping of archaeal translation initiation factor 2. J Biol Chem. (2004) 279, 15984-15993.


S. Blanquet,  Y. Mechulam, T. Crepin and E. Schmitt.

Class 1 aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases: Methionyl-tRNA synthetase

In The Aminoacyl-tRNA Synthetases. M. Ibba, C. Francklyn and S. Cusack Eds. Landes Bioscience. (2005). pp 227-240.


M. Fromant, E. Schmitt, Y. Mechulam, C. Lazennec, P. Plateau, S. Blanquet. (2005)

Crystal structure at 1.8 Å resolution and identification of active residues of Sulfolobus solfataricus peptidyl-tRNA hydrolase. Biochemistry , 44, 4294-4301.


L. Yatime, E. Schmitt, S. Blanquet and Y. Mechulam.(2005)

Structure-function relationships of the intact aIF2α subunit from the archaeon Pyrococcus abyssi Biochemistry.44, 8749-8756


E. Schmitt, S. Blanquet and Y. Mechulam (2005)

Structural basis for tRNA-dependent amidotransferase function. Structure, 13, 1421-1433.

Cet article a fait l’objet d’un commentaire de J. Perona dans le même numéro.


L. Guillon, L., E. Schmitt, E., Blanquet, S. and Mechulam, Y.

Initiator tRNA binding by e/aIF5B, the eukaryotic/archaeal homologue of bacterial initiation factor IF2 Biochemistry, 44, 15594-15601



Yatime, L., Mechulam, Y., Blanquet, S. and  Schmitt, E. (2006)

Structural switch of the γ subunit in an archaeal aIF2αγ heterodimer

Structure, 14, 119-128.


Oshikane H, Sheppard K, Fukai S, Nakamura Y, Ishitani R, Numata T, Sherrer RL, Feng L, Schmitt E, Panvert M, Blanquet S, Mechulam Y, Söll D, Nureki O. (2006) Structural basis of RNA-dependent recruitment of glutamine to the genetic code. Science, 312, 1950-1954.


Mechulam Y, Guillon L, Yatime L, Blanquet S and Schmitt E (2007) Protection-based assays to measure aminoacyl-tRNA binding to translation initiation factors. Methods Enzymol. 430, « Translation Initiation: Reconstituted Systems and Biophysical Methods ».  Jon Lorsch.ed. 265-281.


Yatime, L., Mechulam, Y., Blanquet, S. and  Schmitt, E. (2007)

Structure of an archaeal heterotrimeric initiation factor 2 reveals a novel nucleotide state between the GTP and the GDP ones". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci USA, 104, 18445-18450.


Barraud P, Schmitt E, Mechulam Y, Dardel F, Tisné C.A unique conformation of the anticodon stem-loop is associated with the capacity of tRNAfMet to initiate protein synthesis. Nucleic Acids Res. 2008;36(15):4894-901.


Schmitt E, Galimand M, Panvert M, Courvalin P, Mechulam Y. Structural bases for 16 S rRNA methylation catalyzed by ArmA and RmtB methyltransferases. J Mol Biol. 2009 ; 388(3):570-82.


Tanrikulu IC, Schmitt E, Mechulam Y, Goddard WA 3rd, Tirrell DA. Discovery of Escherichia coli methionyl-tRNA synthetase mutants for efficient labeling of proteins with azidonorleucine in vivo. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009;106(36):15285-90.


Schmitt E, Tanrikulu IC, Yoo TH, Panvert M, Tirrell DA, Mechulam Y. Switching from an Induced-Fit to a Lock-and-Key Mechanism in an Aminoacyl-tRNA Synthetase with Modified Specificity. J Mol Biol. 2009, 394 :843-851.


Schmitt E, Naveau M, Mechulam Y. Eukaryotic and archaeal translation initiation factor 2: a heterotrimeric tRNA carrier. FEBS Lett. 2010, 584 :405-412.


Naveau M, Lazennec-Schurdevin C, Panvert M, Mechulam Y, Schmitt E.

tRNA binding properties of eukaryotic initiation factor 2 from Encephalitozoon cuniculi.

Biochemistry (2010), 49:8680-8688.


Galimand M, Schmitt E, Panvert M, Desmolaize B, Douthwaite S, Mechulam Y, Courvalin P.

Intrinsic resistance to aminoglycosides in Enterococcus faecium is conferred by the 16S rRNA m5C1404-specific methyltransferase EfmM. RNA (2011), 17, 251-262.


Y. Mechulam, S. Blanquet and E. Schmitt. 9 June 2011, posting date. Chapter 4.2.2, Translation Initiation.

In A. Böck, R. Curtiss III, J. B. Kaper, P. D. Karp, F. C. Neidhardt, J. M. Slauch, and C. L. Squires (ed.), EcoSal—Escherichia coli and Salmonella: cellular and molecular biology.

http://www.ecosal.org. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/ecosal.4.2.2. revue invitée.


Schmitt E, Panvert M, Lazennec-Schurdevin C, Coureux PD, Perez J, Thompson A, Mechulam Y. Structure of the ternary initiation complex aIF2-GDPNP-methionylated initiator tRNA.

Nat. Struct. Mol. Biol. 2012, 19:450-454.


Naveau M, Lazennec-Schurdevin C, Panvert M, Dubiez E, Mechulam Y, Schmitt E. Roles of yeast eIF2α and eIF2β subunits in the binding of the initiator methionyl-tRNA. Nucleic Acids Res. 2013, 41(2):1047-57.


Jacquier H, Birgy A, Le Nagard H, Mechulam Y, Schmitt E, Glodt J, Bercot B, Petit E, Poulain J, Barnaud G, Gros PA, Tenaillon O. Capturing the mutational landscape of the beta-lactamase TEM-1. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013, 110(32):13067-72.


Moutiez M, Schmitt E, Seguin J, Thai R, Favry E, Belin P, Mechulam Y, Gondry M. (2014). Unravelling the mechanism of non-ribosomal peptide synthesis by cyclodipeptide synthases. Nat Commun., 5:5141.


Dubiez E, Aleksandrov A, Lazennec-Schurdevin C, Mechulam Y, Schmitt E. (2015) Identification of a second GTP-bound magnesium ion in archaeal initiation factor 2. Nucleic Acids Res., 43 :2946-2957.


Chung WJ, Heddi B, Schmitt E, Lim KW, Mechulam Y, Phan AT. (2015) Structure of a left-handed DNA G-quadruplex. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A.,112:2729-2733.


Panvert M, Dubiez E, Arnold L, Perez J, Mechulam Y, Seufert W, Schmitt E. (2015) Cdc123, a Cell Cycle Regulator Needed for eIF2 Assembly, Is an ATP-Grasp Protein with Unique Features. Structure 23:1596-1608.


Coureux PD, Lazennec-Schurdevin C, Monestier A, Larquet E, Cladière L, Klaholz BP, Schmitt E, Mechulam Y. (2016) Cryo-EM study of start codon selection during archaeal translation initiation.

Nat Commun. Nov 7;7:13366. doi: 10.1038/ncomms13366.


Monestier A, Aleksandrov A, Coureux PD, Panvert M, Mechulam Y, Schmitt E. (2017) The structure of an E. coli tRNAfMet A1-U72 variant shows an unusual conformation of the A1-U72 base pair. May;23(5):673-682. doi: 10.1261/rna.057877.116.


Bourgeois G, Seguin J, Babin M, Belin P, Moutiez M, Mechulam Y, Gondry M, Schmitt E. (2018) Structural basis for partition of the cyclodipeptide synthases into two subfamilies. J Struct Biol. S1047-8477(18)30063-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jsb.2018.03.001.



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