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Nucleic Acids Res. Nov 25, 1982; 10(22): 7323–7344.
PMCID: PMC327007

Generalized structures of the 5S ribosomal RNAs.


The sequences of 5S ribosomal RNAs from a wide-range of organisms have been compared. All sequences fit a generalized 5S RNA secondary structural model. Twenty-three nucleotide positions are found universally, i.e., in 5S RNAs of eukaryotes, prokaryotes, archaebacteria, chloroplasts and mitochondria. One major distinguishing feature between the prokaryotic and eukaryotic 5S RNAs is the number of nucleotide positions between certain universal positions, e.g., prokaryotic 5S RNAs have three positions between the universal positions PuU40 and G44 (using the E. coli numbering system) and eukaryotic 5S RNAs have two. The archaebacterial 5S RNAs appear to resemble the eukaryotic 5S RNAs to varying degrees depending on the species of archaebacteria although all the RNAs conform with the prokaryotic "rule" of chain length between PuU40 and G44. The green plant chloroplast and wheat mitochondrial 5S RNAs appear prokaryotic-like when comparing the number of positions between universal nucleotides. Nucleotide positions common to eukaryotic 5S RNAs have been mapped; in addition, nucleotide sequences, helix lengths and looped-out residues specific to phyla are proposed. Several of the common nucleotides found in the 5S RNAs of metazoan somatic tissue differ in the 5S RNAs of oocytes. These changes may indicate an important functional role of the 5S RNA during oocyte maturation.

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