A complete landscape of post-transcriptional modifications in mammalian mitochondrial tRNAs

Nucleic Acids Res. 2014 Jun;42(11):7346-57. doi: 10.1093/nar/gku390. Epub 2014 May 15.


In mammalian mitochondria, 22 species of tRNAs encoded in mitochondrial DNA play crucial roles in the translation of 13 essential subunits of the respiratory chain complexes involved in oxidative phosphorylation. Following transcription, mitochondrial tRNAs are modified by nuclear-encoded tRNA-modifying enzymes. These modifications are required for the proper functioning of mitochondrial tRNAs (mt tRNAs), and the absence of these modifications can cause pathological consequences. To date, however, the information available about these modifications has been incomplete. To address this issue, we isolated all 22 species of mt tRNAs from bovine liver and comprehensively determined the post-transcriptional modifications in each tRNA by mass spectrometry. Here, we describe the primary structures with post-transcriptional modifications of seven species of mt tRNAs which were previously uncharacterized, and provide revised information regarding base modifications in five other mt tRNAs. In the complete set of bovine mt tRNAs, we found 15 species of modified nucleosides at 118 positions (7.48% of total bases). This result provides insight into the molecular mechanisms underlying the decoding system in mammalian mitochondria and enables prediction of candidate tRNA-modifying enzymes responsible for each modification of mt tRNAs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • RNA / chemistry
  • RNA / isolation & purification
  • RNA / metabolism*
  • RNA Processing, Post-Transcriptional*
  • RNA, Mitochondrial
  • RNA, Transfer / chemistry
  • RNA, Transfer / isolation & purification
  • RNA, Transfer / metabolism*


  • RNA, Mitochondrial
  • RNA
  • RNA, Transfer