Changing the acceptor identity of a transfer RNA by altering nucleotides in a "variable pocket"

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Science  30 Sep 1988:
Vol. 241, Issue 4874, pp. 1804-1807
DOI: 10.1126/science.2459773


The specificity of tRNA(Arg) (arginine transfer RNA) for aminoacylation (its acceptor identity) were first identified by computer analysis and then examined with amber suppressor tRNAs in Escherichia coli. On replacing two nucleotides in tRNA(Phe) (phenylalanine transfer RNA) with the corresponding nucleotides from tRNA(Arg), the acceptor identity of the resulting tRNA was changed to that of tRNA(Arg). The nucleotides used in the identity transformation occupy a "variable pocket" structure on the surface of the tRNA molecule where two single-stranded loop segments interact. The middle nucleotide in the anticodon also probably contributes to the interaction, since an amber suppressor of tRNA(Arg) had an acceptor identity for lysine as well as arginine.