Enzymatic modification of transfer RNA

Science
D Soll

Abstract

The molecular events leading to the synthesis of mature tRNA are only now becoming amenable to experimental study. In bacterial and mammalian cells tRNA genes are transcribed into precursor tRNA. These molecules, when isolated, contain additional nucleotides at both ends (20) of the mature tRNA and lack most modified nucleosides. Presumably, specific nucleases ("trimming" enzymes) cut the precursor to proper tRNA size. The C-C-A nucleotide sequence of the amino acid acceptor end common to all tRNA's does not seem to be coded by tRNA genes (30), and may be added to the trimmed molecules by the tRNA-CMP-AMP-pyrophosphorylase (71). Modifications at the polynucleotide level of the heterocyclic bases or the sugar residues give rise to the modified nucleosides in tRNA. Although newly available substrates have allowed the detection of more of the enzymes involved in these reactions, there is still no knowledge about the sequence of modification or trimming events leading to the synthesis of active tRNA. Progress in these studies may not be easy because enzyme preparations free of nucleases or other tRNA modifying enzymes are required. The role of the modified nucleosides in the biological functions of tRNA is still unknown. Possibly p...Continue Reading

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