Journal of Molecular Evolution

, Volume 61, Issue 2, pp 226–235

RNA Affinity for Molecular L-Histidine; Genetic Code Origins


DOI: 10.1007/s00239-004-0360-9

Cite this article as:
Majerfeld, I., Puthenvedu, D. & Yarus, M. J Mol Evol (2005) 61: 226. doi:10.1007/s00239-004-0360-9


Selection for affinity for free histidine yields a single RNA aptamer, which was isolated 54 times independently. This RNA is highly specific for the side chain and binds protonated L-histidine with 102−103-fold stereoselectivity and a dissociation constant (KD) of 8–54 μM in different isolates. These histidine-binding RNAs have a common internal loop–hairpin loop structure, based on a conserved RAAGUGGGKKN0–36 AUGUN0–2AGKAACAG sequence. Notably, the repetitively isolated sequence contains two histidine anticodons, both implicated by conservation and chemical data in amino acid affinity. This site is probably the simplest structure that can meet our histidine affinity selection, which strengthens experimental support for a “stereochemical” origin of the genetic code.


Selection SELEX Amino acid Coding Triplet 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Irene Majerfeld
    • 1
  • Deepa Puthenvedu
    • 1
  • Michael Yarus
    • 1
  1. 1.Molecular, Cellular and Developmental BiologyUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA