The nucleotide at position 33 on the 5′ side of the anticodon of almost all tRNAs is a uridine1. Crystallographic studies of different tRNAs2-6 reveal that although the precise orientation of uridine-33 is not always the same, it connects the anticodon stacked along the 3′ side of the loop with the pyrimidine-32 stacked on the 5′ side of the loop. The remarkably conserved nature of uridine-33 and its unique position in the anticodon loop structure has led to suggestions6-8 that this nucleotide has an essential role in the translational mechanism. We have developed a biochemical procedure to replace nucleotides 33-35 in yeast tRNATyr with any desired sequence and used it to construct amber suppressor tRNAs having different nucleotides at position 33. As all of these synthetic amber suppressor tRNAs functioned well in eukaryotic in vitro suppression assays, we conclude that uridine-33 does not have an obligatory role in the translation mechanism.
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