The presence of codon-anticodon pairs in the acceptor stem of tRNAs

Sergei Rodin, Andrei Rodin, Susumu Ohno

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A total of 1268 available (excluding mitochondrial) tRNA sequences was used to reconstruct the common consensus image of their acceptor domains. Its structure appeared as a 11-bp-long double-stranded palindrome with complementary triplets in the center, each flanked by the 3'-ACCD and NGGU- 5' motifs on each strand (D, base determinator). The palindrome readily extends up to the modern tRNA-like cloverleaf passing through an intermediate hairpin having in the center the single-stranded triplet, in supplement to its double-stranded precursor. The latter might represent an original anticodon-codon pair mapped at 1-2-3 positions of the present-day tRNA acceptors. This conclusion is supported by the striking correlation: in pairs of consensus tRNAs with complementary anticodons, their bases at the 2nd position of the acceptor stem were also complementary. Accordingly, inverse complementarity was also evident at the 71st position of the acceptor stem. With a single exception (tRNA(Phe)-tRNA(Glu) pair), the parallelism is especially impressive for the pairs of tRNAs recognized by aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (aaRS) from the opposite classes. The above complementarity still doubly presented at the key central position of real single-stranded anticodons and their hypothetical double-stranded precursors is consistent with our previous data pointing to the double-strand use of ancient RNAs in the origin of the main actors in translation-tRNAs with complementary anticodons and the two classes of aaRS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4537-4542
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - May 14 1996


  • RNA world
  • aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases
  • complementary tRNAs
  • double-stranded code

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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