A dichotomous choice for metazoan cells is between proliferation and differentiation. Measuring tRNA pools in various cell types, we found two distinct subsets, one that is induced in proliferating cells, and repressed otherwise, and another with the opposite signature. Correspondingly, we found that genes serving cell-autonomous functions and genes involved in multicellularity obey distinct codon usage. Proliferation-induced and differentiation-induced tRNAs often carry anticodons that correspond to the codons enriched among the cell-autonomous and the multicellularity genes, respectively. Because mRNAs of cell-autonomous genes are induced in proliferation and cancer in particular, the concomitant induction of their codon-enriched tRNAs suggests coordination between transcription and translation. Histone modifications indeed change similarly in the vicinity of cell-autonomous genes and their corresponding tRNAs, and in multicellularity genes and their tRNAs, suggesting the existence of transcriptional programs coordinating tRNA supply and demand. Hence, we describe the existence of two distinct translation programs that operate during proliferation and differentiation.
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