Modomics - A Database of RNA Modifications

Published on April 1, 2019 in 36(4):650-662 volume Mol Biol Evol.

PubMed ID: 30590541

DOI: 10.1093/molbev/msy245


The modification of adenosine to inosine at the first position of transfer RNA (tRNA) anticodons (I34) is widespread among bacteria and eukaryotes. In bacteria, the modification is found in tRNAArg and is catalyzed by tRNA adenosine deaminase A, a homodimeric enzyme. In eukaryotes, I34 is introduced in up to eight different tRNAs by the heterodimeric adenosine deaminase acting on tRNA. This substrate expansion significantly influenced the evolution of eukaryotic genomes in terms of codon usage and tRNA gene composition. However, the selective advantages driving this process remain unclear. Here, we have studied the evolution of I34, tRNA adenosine deaminase A, adenosine deaminase acting on tRNA, and their relevant codons in a large set of bacterial and eukaryotic species. We show that a functional expansion of I34 to tRNAs other than tRNAArg also occurred within bacteria, in a process likely initiated by the emergence of unmodified A34-containing tRNAs. In eukaryotes, we report on a large variability in the use of I34 in protists, in contrast to a more uniform presence in fungi, plans, and animals. Our data support that the eukaryotic expansion of I34-tRNAs was driven by the improvement brought by these tRNAs to the synthesis of proteins highly enriched in certain amino acids.