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Transfer RNAs (tRNAs) are the macromolecules that transfer activated amino acids from aminoacyl‐tRNA synthetases to the ribosome, where they are used for the mRNA guided synthesis of proteins. Transfer RNAs are ancient molecules, perhaps even predating the existence of the translation machinery. Albeit old, these molecules are tremendously conserved, a characteristic that is well illustrated by the fact that some bacterial tRNAs are efficient and specific substrates of eukaryotic aminoacyl‐tRNA synthetases and ribosomes. Considering their ancient origin and high structural conservation, it is not surprising that tRNAs have been hijacked during evolution for functions outside of translation. These roles beyond translation include synthetic, regulatory and information functions within the cell. Here we provide an overview of the non‐canonical roles of tRNAs and their mimics in bacteria, and discuss some of the common themes that arise when comparing these different functions.


This is the accepted version of the following article:

Katz, A., Elgamal, S., Rajkovic, A. and Ibba M. (2016) Non-canonical roles of tRNAs and tRNA mimics in bacterial cell biology. Mol. Microbiol. 101, 545-588.

which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.





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