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Nucleic Acids Res. 2013 May 1;41(10):5494-502. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkt219. Epub 2013 Apr 10.

A universal RNA structural motif docking the elbow of tRNA in the ribosome, RNAse P and T-box leaders.

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Université Paris-Sud, Institut de Génétique et Microbiologie, CNRS UMR 8621, Orsay F-91405, France.


The structure and function of conserved motifs constituting the apex of Stem I in T-box mRNA leaders are investigated. We point out that this apex shares striking similarities with the L1 stalk (helices 76-78) of the ribosome. A sequence and structure analysis of both elements shows that, similarly to the head of the L1 stalk, the function of the apex of Stem I lies in the docking of tRNA through a stacking interaction with the conserved G19:C56 base pair platform. The inferred structure in the apex of Stem I consists of a module of two T-loops bound together head to tail, a module that is also present in the head of the L1 stalk, but went unnoticed. Supporting the analysis, we show that a highly conserved structure in RNAse P formerly described as the J11/12-J12/11 module, which is precisely known to bind the elbow of tRNA, constitutes a third instance of this T-loop module. A structural analysis explains why six nucleotides constituting the core of this module are highly invariant among all three types of RNA. Our finding that major RNA partners of tRNA bind the elbow with a same RNA structure suggests an explanation for the origin of the tRNA L-shape.

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