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Preface/Front Matter

Paul R. Schimmel, Dieter Söll, John N. Abelson


During recent years, tRNA has been the subject of intense investigation for several reasons. First, it plays a central role in protein synthesis and it is a major challenge to sort out the complexities and diversity of interactions it undergoes in this process. Second, it is a relatively small, single-stranded RNA (approximate m.w. of 25,000) that can be analyzed by structural methods, including sequencing and X-ray diffraction, that are often not feasible with larger, more complex RNA molecules. In this regard, it is hoped that analysis of the structural features of tRNA will be helpful in gaining insight into the structural organization of other RNA molecules, such as rRNAs and mRNAs. Third, there are a number of reactions in which tRNAs are specifically recognized by proteins so that, with a well-characterized nucleic acid structure available, these systems are excellent for exploring the molecular basis of specific protein-nucleic acid interactions. Fourth, it is now well established that tRNAs play a role in the regulation of gene expression and in a number of other cellular processes, an observation that points to the striking versatility of the molecule. And finally, because they are relatively well characterized and because of their obvious biological importance, tRNAs have become popular for studies of gene organization, cloning, and biosynthesis.

In this volume, we treat tRNA structure, properties, and recognition. There are six sections that cover these subjects: primary structure and sequencing of tRNAs, crystal structure analysis of tRNAs, tRNA structure and dynamics in solution, aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases, recognition

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