A compilation of crystallization experiments of tRNAs published in literature as well as original results are given and discussed in this paper. Up to now 17 different tRNA species originating from Escherichia coli and from the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae have been crystallized. All structural tRNA families are represented, namely the tRNAs with large or small extra-loops and among them the initiator tRNAs. The tRNAs with small variable loops (4 to 5 nucleotides), e.g. tRNA Asp and tRNA Phe , yield the best diffracting crystals. Crystalline polymorphism is a common feature; about 100 different crystal forms have been observed, but only 6 among them enabled structure determination studies by X-ray diffraction. Crystallization strongly depends upon experimental parameters such as the presence of polyamines and magnesium as well as upon the purity and the molecular integrity of the tRNAs. Crystals are usually obtained by vapour diffusion methods using salts (e.g. ammonium sulfate), organic solvants (e.g. isopropanol, dioxane or 2-methyl-2,4-pentane diol) or polyethylene glycol as precipitants. A methodological strategy for crystallyzing new tRNA species is described. © 1984.
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