Eukaryotic initiator tRNA: finely tuned and ready for action

FEBS Lett. 2010 Jan 21;584(2):396-404. doi: 10.1016/j.febslet.2009.11.047.


The initiator tRNA must serve functions distinct from those of other tRNAs, evading binding to elongation factors and instead binding directly to the ribosomal P site with the aid of initiation factors. It plays a key role in decoding the start codon, setting the frame for translation of the mRNA. Sequence elements and modifications of the initiator tRNA distinguish it from the elongator methionyl tRNA and help it to perform its varied tasks. These identity elements appear to finely tune the structure of the initiator tRNA, and growing evidence suggests that the body of the tRNA is involved in transmitting the signal that the start codon has been found to the rest of the pre-initiation complex.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anticodon / metabolism
  • Codon, Initiator / metabolism
  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-2 / metabolism*
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Peptide Chain Initiation, Translational*
  • RNA, Transfer, Met / chemistry*
  • RNA, Transfer, Met / metabolism*
  • Ribosomes / metabolism*


  • Anticodon
  • Codon, Initiator
  • Eukaryotic Initiation Factor-2
  • RNA, Transfer, Met