Methionine tRNA was purified from bovine liver mitochondria, and its nucleotide sequence was determined. The tRNA possesses only three posttranscriptionally modified nucleosides, two pseudouridines in the anticodon and T stems and a previously unknown nucleoside specified by the gene sequence as cytidine, in the first position of the anticodon. Structure analysis of the anticodon nucleoside by mass spectrometry revealed a molecular mass 28 Da greater than that of cytidine, and unmodified ribose, with substitution at C-5 implied by hydrogen–deuterium exchange experiments. Proton NMR of the intact tRNA showed presence of a formyl moiety, thus leading to the candidate structure 5-formylcytidine (f5C), not a previously known compound. The structure assignment was confirmed by chemical synthesis and comparison of data from combined HPLC/mass spectrometry and proton NMR for the natural and synthetic nucleosides. The potential function of f5C in the tRNAMet anticodon is discussed with regard to codon-anticodon interactions.
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