Alternative genetic code for amino acids and transfer RNA revisited

Kiyofumi Hamashima, Akio Kanai

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The genetic code is highly conserved among all organisms and its evolution is thought to be strictly limited. However, an increasing number of studies have reported non-standard codes in prokaryotic and eukaryotic genomes. Most of these deviations from the standard code are attributable to tRNA changes relating to, for example, codon/anticodon base pairing and tRNA/ aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase recognition. In this review, we focus on tRNA, a key molecule in the translation of the genetic code, and summarize the most recently published information on the evolutionary divergence of the tRNAs. Surprisingly, although higher eukaryotes, such as the nematode (worm), utilize the standard genetic code, newly identified nematode-specific tRNAs (nev-tRNAs) translate nucleotides in a manner that transgresses the code. Furthermore, a variety of additional functions of tRNAs, beyond their translation of the genetic code, have emerged rapidly. We also review these intriguing new aspects of tRNA, which have potential impacts on translational control, RNA silencing, antibiotic resistance, RNA biosynthesis, and transcriptional regulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-318
Number of pages10
JournalBiomolecular Concepts
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Jun


  • Evolution
  • Genetic code
  • Protein synthesis
  • TRNA fragment
  • Transfer RNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Alternative genetic code for amino acids and transfer RNA revisited'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this