Journal of Molecular Evolution

, Volume 34, Issue 6, pp 471–477 | Cite as

Statistical evidence for remnants of the primordial code in the acceptor stem of prokaryotic transfer RNA

  • W. Möller
  • G.M.C. Janssen


The specificity of interaction of amino acids with triplets in the acceptor helix stem of tRNA was investigated by means of a statistical analysis of 1400 tRNA sequences. The imprint of a prototypic genetic code at position 3–5 of the acceptor helix was detected, but only for those major amino acids, glycine, alanine, aspartic acid, and valine, that are formed by spark discharges of simple gases in the laboratory. Although remnants of the code at position 3–5 are typical for tRNAs of archaebacteria, eubacteria, and chloroplasts, eukaryotes do not seem to contain this code, and mitochondria take up an intermediary position. A duplication mechanism for the transposition of the original 3–5 code toward its present position in the anticodon stern of tRNA is proposed. From this viewpoint, the mode of evolution of mRNA and functional ribosomes becomes more understandable.

Key words

Transfer RNA Acceptor helix stem Primordial code Statistics 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. Möller
    • 1
  • G.M.C. Janssen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Medical BiochemistryState University of LeidenRA LeidenThe Netherlands

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