The selenocysteine (Sec) tRNA[Ser]Sec population consists of two isoforms that differ from each other by a single 2'-O-methylribosyl moiety at position 34 (Um34). These two isoforms, which are encoded in a single gene, Trsp, and modified posttranscriptionally, are involved individually in the synthesis of two subclasses of selenoproteins, designated housekeeping and stress-related selenoproteins. Techniques used in obtaining these isoforms for their characterization include extraction of RNA from mammalian cells and tissues, purifying the tRNA[Ser]Sec population by one or more procedures, and finally resolving the two isoforms from each other. Since some of the older techniques for isolating tRNA[Ser]Sec and resolving the isoforms are used in only a few laboratories, these procedures will be discussed briefly and references provided for more detailed information, while the more recently developed procedures are discussed in detail. In addition, a novel technique that was developed in sequencing tRNA[Ser]Sec for identifying their occurrence in other organisms is also presented.
Keywords: Chromatography; Gel electrophoresis; Selenium; Selenocysteine tRNA; Selenocysteine tRNA detection; Selenocysteine tRNA gene modification.