The role of aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases in genetic diseases

Annu Rev Genomics Hum Genet. 2008;9:87-107. doi: 10.1146/annurev.genom.9.081307.164204.


Aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (ARSs) are ubiquitously expressed, essential enzymes responsible for performing the first step of protein synthesis. Specifically, ARSs attach amino acids to their cognate tRNA molecules in the cytoplasm and mitochondria. Recent studies have demonstrated that mutations in genes encoding ARSs can result in neurodegeneration, raising many questions about the role of these enzymes (and protein synthesis in general) in neuronal function. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge of genetic diseases that are associated with mutations in ARS-encoding genes, discuss the potential pathogenic mechanisms underlying these disorders, and point to likely areas of future research that will advance our understanding about the role of ARSs in genetic diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acyl-tRNA Synthetases / genetics*
  • Amino Acyl-tRNA Synthetases / immunology
  • Amino Acyl-tRNA Synthetases / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Autoantibodies / biosynthesis
  • Cerebellar Ataxia / enzymology
  • Cerebellar Ataxia / genetics
  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease / enzymology
  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease / genetics
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Genes, Mitochondrial
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn / enzymology*
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn / genetics*
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Muscular Atrophy, Spinal / enzymology
  • Muscular Atrophy, Spinal / genetics
  • Mutation
  • Neurons / enzymology
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / enzymology
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / genetics


  • Autoantibodies
  • Amino Acyl-tRNA Synthetases