Micronutrients from the diet and gut microbiota are essential to human health and wellbeing. Arguably, among the most intriguing and enigmatic of these micronutrients is queuine, an elaborate 7-deazaguanine derivative made exclusively by eubacteria and salvaged by animal, plant and fungal species. In eubacteria and eukaryotes, queuine is found as the sugar nucleotide queuosine within the anticodon loop of transfer RNA isoacceptors for the amino acids tyrosine, asparagine, aspartic acid and histidine. The physiological requirement for the ancient queuine molecule and queuosine modified transfer RNA has been the subject of varied scientific interrogations for over four decades, establishing relationships to development, proliferation, metabolism, cancer, and tyrosine biosynthesis in eukaryotes and to invasion and proliferation in pathogenic bacteria, in addition to ribosomal frameshifting in viruses. These varied effects may be rationalized by an important, if ill-defined, contribution to protein translation or may manifest from other presently unidentified mechanisms. This article will examine the current understanding of queuine uptake, tRNA incorporation and salvage by eukaryotic organisms and consider some of the physiological consequence arising from deficiency in this elusive and lesser-recognized micronutrient.
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