Transfer RNA modifications: nature's combinatorial chemistry playground

Wiley Interdiscip Rev RNA. 2013 Jan-Feb;4(1):35-48. doi: 10.1002/wrna.1144. Epub 2012 Nov 8.


Following synthesis, tRNAs are peppered by numerous chemical modifications which may differentially affect a tRNA's structure and function. Although modifications affecting the business ends of a tRNA are predictably important for cell viability, a majority of modifications play more subtle structural roles that can affect tRNA stability and folding. The current trend is that modifications act in concert and it is in the context of the specific sequence of a given tRNA that they impart their differing effects. Recent developments in the modification field have highlighted the diversity of modifications in tRNA. From these, the combinatorial nature of modifications in explaining previously described phenotypes derived from their absence has emerged as a growing theme.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Protein Biosynthesis / genetics
  • Protein Biosynthesis / physiology
  • RNA Processing, Post-Transcriptional*
  • RNA, Transfer* / chemistry
  • RNA, Transfer* / genetics
  • RNA, Transfer* / metabolism
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • RNA, Transfer