An initiator tRNA gene, and a closely linked fragment of a second initiator-tRNA-like sequence, from H37Ra have been cloned and characterized. The promoter region of metA shows the presence of conserved sequence elements, TAGCCT and TTGGCG, with resemblance to -10 and -35 promoter regions. The deduced sequence of the mature tRNA contains the three unique features of the eubacterial initiator tRNAs represented by (i) a C:U mismatch at position 1:72, (ii) three consecutive base pairs, 29-31G:C39-41 in the anticodon stem, and (iii) a purine:pyrimidine (A:U) base pair at position 11:24 in the dihydrouridine stem. A putative hairpin structure consisting of an 11 bp stem and a three-base loop found in the 3′ flanking region is followed by a stretch of T residues and may serve as a transcription terminator. Analysis of the expression of and of its promoter using chloramphenicol acetyltransferase fusion constructs in shows that is a functional gene driven by a strong promoter. Furthermore, the overexpressed transcripts are fully processed and formylated . The clone shows the presence of sequences corresponding to those downstream of position 30 of the tRNA. However, the CCA sequence at the 3′ end has been mutated to CCG. Interestingly, the 3′ flanking sequences of both the genes are rich in GCT repeats. The locus also harbours a repeat element, IS6110. A method to prepare total RNA from mycobacteria (under acidic conditions) to analyse status of tRNAs is described.


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