tRNA-derived fragments target the ribosome and function as regulatory non-coding RNA in Haloferax volcanii

Archaea. 2012;2012:260909. doi: 10.1155/2012/260909. Epub 2012 Dec 27.


Nonprotein coding RNA (ncRNA) molecules have been recognized recently as major contributors to regulatory networks in controlling gene expression in a highly efficient manner. These RNAs either originate from their individual transcription units or are processing products from longer precursor RNAs. For example, tRNA-derived fragments (tRFs) have been identified in all domains of life and represent a growing, yet functionally poorly understood, class of ncRNA candidates. Here we present evidence that tRFs from the halophilic archaeon Haloferax volcanii directly bind to ribosomes. In the presented genomic screen of the ribosome-associated RNome, a 26-residue-long fragment originating from the 5' part of valine tRNA was by far the most abundant tRF. The Val-tRF is processed in a stress-dependent manner and was found to primarily target the small ribosomal subunit in vitro and in vivo. As a consequence of ribosome binding, Val-tRF reduces protein synthesis by interfering with peptidyl transferase activity. Therefore this tRF functions as ribosome-bound small ncRNA capable of regulating gene expression in H. volcanii under environmental stress conditions probably by fine tuning the rate of protein production.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Archaeal
  • Gene Regulatory Networks
  • Haloferax volcanii / genetics*
  • Haloferax volcanii / metabolism
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • RNA Processing, Post-Transcriptional
  • RNA, Archaeal / chemistry
  • RNA, Archaeal / genetics*
  • RNA, Archaeal / metabolism
  • RNA, Transfer / chemistry
  • RNA, Transfer / genetics*
  • RNA, Transfer / metabolism
  • RNA, Transfer, Val / chemistry
  • RNA, Transfer, Val / genetics
  • RNA, Transfer, Val / metabolism
  • RNA, Untranslated / chemistry
  • RNA, Untranslated / genetics
  • RNA, Untranslated / metabolism
  • Ribosome Subunits, Small, Archaeal / genetics
  • Ribosome Subunits, Small, Archaeal / metabolism
  • Ribosomes / genetics
  • Ribosomes / metabolism


  • RNA, Archaeal
  • RNA, Transfer, Val
  • RNA, Untranslated
  • RNA, Transfer