- Press Release
- February 27, 2024
Superwobbling and tRNA-34 Wobble and tRNA-37 Anticodon Loop Modifications in Evolution and Devolution of the Genetic Code
The genetic code evolved around the reading of the tRNA anticodon on the primitive ribosome, and tRNA-34 wobble and tRNA-37 modifications coevolved with the code.
We posit that EF-Tu, the closing mechanism of the 30S ribosomal subunit, methylation of wobble U34 at the 5-carbon and suppression of wobbling at the tRNA-36 position were partly redundant and overlapping functions that coevolved to establish the code. The genetic code devolved in evolution of mitochondria to reduce the size of the tRNAome (all of the tRNAs of an organism or organelle). “Superwobbling” or four-way wobbling describes a major mechanism for shrinking the mitochondrial tRNAome.
In superwobbling, unmodified wobble tRNA-U34 can recognize all four codon wobble bases (A, G, C and U), allowing a single unmodified tRNA-U34 to read a 4-codon box. During code evolution, to suppress superwobbling in 2-codon sectors, U34 modification by methylation at the 5-carbon position appears essential.
As expected, at the base of code evolution, tRNA-37 modifications mostly related to the identity of the adjacent tRNA-36 base. TRNA-37 modifications help maintain the translation frame during elongation.