Folding of circularly permuted transfer RNAs

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Science  29 Nov 1991:
Vol. 254, Issue 5036, pp. 1361-1364
DOI: 10.1126/science.1720569


All of the ribose-phosphate linkages in yeast tRNA(Phe) that could be cleaved without affecting the folding of the molecule have been determined in a single experiment. Circular permutation analysis subjects circular tRNA molecules to limited alkaline hydrolysis in order to generate one random break per molecule. Correctly folded tRNAs were identified by lead cleavage at neutral pH, a well-characterized reaction that requires proper folding of tRNA(Phe). Surprisingly, most of the circularly permuted tRNA molecules folded correctly. This result suggests that the tRNA folding motif could occur internally within other RNA sequences, and a computer search of Genbank entries has identified many examples of such motifs.

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