Transfer RNAs (tRNAs) are essential for encoding the transcribed genetic information from DNA into proteins. Variations in the human tRNAs are involved in diverse clinical phenotypes. Interestingly, all pathogenic variations in tRNAs are located in mitochondrial tRNAs (mt-tRNAs). Therefore, it is crucial to identify pathogenic variations in mt-tRNAs for disease diagnosis and proper treatment. We collected mt-tRNA variations using a classification based on evidence from several sources and used the data to develop a multifactorial probability-based prediction method, PON-mt-tRNA, for classification of mt-tRNA single nucleotide substitutions. We integrated a machine learning-based predictor and an evidence-based likelihood ratio for pathogenicity using evidence of segregation, biochemistry and histochemistry to predict the posterior probability of pathogenicity of variants. The accuracy and Matthews correlation coefficient (MCC) of PON-mt-tRNA are 1.00 and 0.99, respectively. In the absence of evidence from segregation, biochemistry and histochemistry, PON-mt-tRNA classifies variations based on the machine learning method with an accuracy and MCC of 0.69 and 0.39, respectively. We classified all possible single nucleotide substitutions in all human mt-tRNAs using PON-mt-tRNA. The variations in the loops are more often tolerated compared to the variations in stems. The anticodon loop contains comparatively more predicted pathogenic variations than the other loops. PON-mt-tRNA is available at http://structure.bmc.lu.se/PON-mt-tRNA/.
© The Author(s) 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.