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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1990 Nov;87(21):8467-71.

Architecture of ribosomal RNA: constraints on the sequence of "tetra-loops".

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, University of Illinois, Urbana 61801.


The four-base loops that cap many double-helical structures in rRNA (the so-called "tetra-loops") exhibit highly invariant to highly variable sequences depending upon their location in the molecule. However, in the vast majority of these cases the sequence of a tetra-loop is independent of its location and conforms to one of three general motifs, GNRA, UNCG, and (more rarely) CUUG. For the most frequently varying of the 16S rRNA tetra-loops, that at position 83 (Escherichia coli numbering), the three sequences CUUG, UUCG, and GCAA account for almost all examples encountered, and each of them has independently arisen at least a dozen times. The closing base pair of tetra-loop hairpins reflects the loop sequence, tending to be C.G for UUCG loops and G.C for CUUG loops.

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