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Life 2015, 5(1), 321-331; doi:10.3390/life5010321

Disrupted tRNA Genes and tRNA Fragments: A Perspective on tRNA Gene Evolution

1
Institute for Advanced Biosciences, Keio University, Tsuruoka 997-0017, Japan
2
Faculty of Environment and Information Studies, Keio University, Fujisawa 252-8520, Japan 
Academic Editor: Niles Lehman
Received: 12 November 2014 / Revised: 14 January 2015 / Accepted: 21 January 2015 / Published: 26 January 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Origins and Early Evolution of RNA)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [1095 KB, uploaded 26 January 2015]   |  

Abstract

Transfer RNAs (tRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs with lengths of approximately 70–100 nt. They are directly involved in protein synthesis by carrying amino acids to the ribosome. In this sense, tRNAs are key molecules that connect the RNA world and the protein world. Thus, study of the evolution of tRNA molecules may reveal the processes that led to the establishment of the central dogma: genetic information flows from DNA to RNA to protein. Thanks to the development of DNA sequencers in this century, we have determined a huge number of nucleotide sequences from complete genomes as well as from transcriptomes in many species. Recent analyses of these large data sets have shown that particular tRNA genes, especially in Archaea, are disrupted in unique ways: some tRNA genes contain multiple introns and some are split genes. Even tRNA molecules themselves are fragmented post-transcriptionally in many species. These fragmented small RNAs are known as tRNA-derived fragments (tRFs). In this review, I summarize the progress of research into the disrupted tRNA genes and the tRFs, and propose a possible model for the molecular evolution of tRNAs based on the concept of the combination of fragmented tRNA halves. View Full-Text
Keywords: transfer RNA; split tRNA; tRNA fragment; molecular evolution transfer RNA; split tRNA; tRNA fragment; molecular evolution
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Kanai, A. Disrupted tRNA Genes and tRNA Fragments: A Perspective on tRNA Gene Evolution. Life 2015, 5, 321-331.

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