Dysfunctions in mitochondria - the powerhouses of the cell - lead to several human pathologies. Because mitochondria integrate nuclear and mitochondrial genetic systems, they are richly intertwined with cellular activities. The nucleus-encoded mitochondrial aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (mt-aaRSs) are key components of the mitochondrial translation apparatus. Mutations in these enzymes predominantly affect the central nervous system (CNS) but also target other organs. Comparable mutations in mt-aaRSs can lead to vastly diverse diseases, occurring at different stages in life, and within different tissues; this represents a confounding issue. With newer information available, we propose that the pleiotropy and tissue-specificity of mt-aaRS-associated diseases result from the molecular integration of mitochondrial translation events within the cell; namely, through specific crosstalk between the cellular program and the energy demands of the cell. We place particular focus on neuronal cells.
Keywords: aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase; central nervous system; mitochondrial disease; mitochondrial translation; moonlighting proteins; unfolded protein response.
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