Aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (ARSs) are ubiquitously expressed, essential enzymes responsible for the first step of protein translation--attaching amino acids to cognate tRNA molecules. Interestingly, ARS gene mutations have been implicated in tissue-specific human diseases, including inherited peripheral neuropathies. To date, five loci encoding an ARS have been implicated in peripheral neuropathy, and alleles at each locus show loss-of-function characteristics. The majority of the phenotypes are autosomal dominant, and each of the implicated enzymes acts as an oligomer, indicating that a dominant-negative effect should be considered. On the basis of current data, impaired tRNA charging is likely to be a central component of ARS-related neuropathy. Future efforts should focus on testing this notion and developing strategies for restoring ARS function in the peripheral nerve.
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