Transfer RNAs (tRNAs) are central players in translation, functioning as adapter molecules between the informational level of nucleic acids and the functional level of proteins. They show a highly conserved secondary and tertiary structure and the highest density of post-transcriptional modifications among all RNAs. These modifications concentrate in two hotspots-the anticodon loop and the tRNA core region, where the D- and T-loop interact with each other, stabilizing the overall structure of the molecule. These modifications can cause large rearrangements as well as local fine-tuning in the 3D structure of a tRNA. The highly conserved tRNA shape is crucial for the interaction with a variety of proteins and other RNA molecules, but also needs a certain flexibility for a correct interplay. In this context, it was shown that tRNA modifications are important for temperature adaptation in thermophilic as well as psychrophilic organisms, as they modulate rigidity and flexibility of the transcripts, respectively. Here, we give an overview on the impact of modifications on tRNA structure and their importance in thermal adaptation.
Keywords: archaeosine; dihydrouridine; dimethylguanosine; lysidine; methyladenosine; methylguanosine; post-transcriptional modifications; pseudouridine; tRNA; tRNA structure.