A novel three-dimensional model of tertiary interactions in the core region of the eukaryotic selenocysteine tRNA is proposed based on the analysis of available nucleotide sequences. The model features the 7/5 tRNASec secondary structure characterized by seven and five base pairs in the acceptor and T-stems, respectively, and four nucleotides in the connector region between the acceptor and D-stems. The model suggests a unique system of tertiary interactions in the area between the major groove of the D-stem and the first base pair of the extra arm that provides a rigid orientation of the extra arm and contributes to the overall stability of the molecule. The model is consistent with available experimental data on serylation, selenylation, and phosphorylation of different tRNASec mutants. The important similarity between the proposed model and the structure of the tRNASer is shown. Based on this similarity, the ability of some tRNASer mutants to be serylated, selenylated, and phosphorylated was evaluated and found to be in a good agreement with experimental data.
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