A nuclear tRNA gene cluster in the protozoan Leishmania tarentolae and differential distribution of nuclear-encoded tRNAs between the cytosol and mitochondria

Mol Biochem Parasitol. 1994 May;65(1):23-37. doi: 10.1016/0166-6851(94)90112-0.


All mitochondrial tRNAs in the protozoan Leishmania are believed to be encoded in the nuclear genome and imported selectively into the mitochondria by an as yet unknown mechanism. Previously, we reported that two tRNAs whose genes are tightly linked were imported by mitochondria. In contrast, a tRNA encoded by a lone tRNA gene was not detectable in mitochondria. The lone tRNA gene had flanking sequences that were different from the linked genes. These studies implied a possible correlation between tRNA gene organization and gene flanking sequence, and selective tRNA import into mitochondria. Here, we report the identification of a cluster of 10 tRNA genes and show the distribution of the corresponding tRNAs in cytosolic and mitochondrial fractions. tRNA(leu)(CAG) and tRNA2(arg)(TCG) are abundant in the cytosol, but relatively scarce in mitochondria. Conversely, tRNA(ile)(TAT) and tRNA1(lys)(TTT) are abundant in mitochondria, but relatively scarce in the cytosol. tRNA(val)(TAC) and tRNA2(thr)(TGT) are barely detectable in either cellular compartment, while tRNA(gln)(TTG), tRNA1(arg)(ACG), tRNA(gly)(TCC), and tRNA(trp)(CCA) are detected in approximately equal levels in both compartments. Sequencing of the 2600 bp that comprise the tRNA gene cluster also encoding the genes for 5S RNA and URNAB RNA indicates that nucleotide composition, length, and location of genes within the cluster do not clearly correlate with import characteristics. The unexpected presence of the tRNA(trp)(CCA)-gene transcript in mitochondria is also reported. Evidence suggests that this tRNA may have unidentified base modifications at the anticodon triplet.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Cytosol / metabolism
  • DNA, Protozoan / chemistry
  • DNA, Protozoan / genetics
  • Genes, Protozoan*
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Leishmania / genetics*
  • Leishmania / metabolism
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Multigene Family*
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • RNA, Protozoan / genetics*
  • RNA, Protozoan / metabolism
  • RNA, Transfer / genetics*
  • RNA, Transfer / metabolism
  • RNA, Transfer, Amino Acid-Specific / chemistry
  • RNA, Transfer, Amino Acid-Specific / genetics
  • RNA, Transfer, Leu / genetics


  • DNA, Protozoan
  • RNA, Protozoan
  • RNA, Transfer, Amino Acid-Specific
  • RNA, Transfer, Leu
  • RNA, Transfer

Associated data

  • GENBANK/L20948