Transfer RNAs (tRNAs) play a central role in translation and also recently appear to have a variety of other functions in biological processes beyond translation. Here we report the development of Four-Leaf clover qRT-PCR (FL-PCR), a convenient PCR-based method, which can specifically quantify individual mature tRNA species. In FL-PCR, T4 RNA ligase 2 specifically ligates a stem-loop adapter to mature tRNAs but not to precursor tRNAs or tRNA fragments. Subsequent TaqMan qRT-PCR amplifies only unmodified regions of the tRNA-adapter ligation products; therefore, FL-PCR quantification is not influenced by tRNA post-transcriptional modifications. FL-PCR has broad applicability for the quantification of various tRNAs in different cell types, and thus provides a much-needed simple method for analyzing tRNA abundance and heterogeneity.
Keywords: FL-PCR; RNA; T4 RNA Ligase 2; TaqMan PCR; tRNA; tRNA abundance; tRNA heterogeneity.