To determine the mechanism underlying the flow of genetic information, it is important to understand the relationship between a tRNA and its binding enzyme, a member of the aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase (aaRS) family. We have developed a novel method to project the interacting regions of tRNA-aaRS complexes, obtained from their three-dimensional structures, onto two-dimensional space. The interacting surface between each tRNA and its aaRS was successfully identified by determining these interactions with an atomic distance threshold of 3.3 Å. We analyzed their interactions, using 60 mainly bacterial and eukaryotic tRNA-aaRS complexes, and showed that the tRNA sequence regions that interacted most strongly with each aaRS are the anticodon loop and the CCA terminal region, followed by the D-stem. A sequence conservation analysis of the canonical tRNAs was conducted in 83 bacterial, 182 archaeal, and 150 eukaryotic species. Our results show that the three tRNA regions that interact with the aaRS and two additional loop regions (D-loop and TψC-loop) known to be important for formation of the tRNA L-shaped structure are broadly conserved. We also found sequence conservations near the tRNA discriminator in the Bacteria and Archaea, and an enormous number of noncanonical tRNAs in the Eukaryotes. This is the first global view of tRNA evolution based on its structure and an unprecedented number of sequence data.
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