The pool of transfer RNA (tRNA) molecules in cells allows the ribosome to decode genetic information. This repertoire of molecular decoders is positioned in the crossroad of the genome, the transcriptome, and the proteome. Omics and systems biology now allow scientists to explore the entire repertoire of tRNAs of many organisms, revealing basic exciting biology. The tRNA gene set of hundreds of species is now characterized, in addition to the tRNA genes of organelles and viruses. Genes encoding tRNAs for certain anticodon types appear in dozens of copies in a genome, while others are universally absent from any genome. Transcriptome measurement of tRNAs is challenging, but in recent years new technologies have allowed researchers to determine the dynamic expression patterns of tRNAs. These advances reveal that availability of ready-to-translate tRNA molecules is highly controlled by several transcriptional and posttranscriptional regulatory processes. This regulation shapes the proteome according to the cellular state. The tRNA pool profoundly impacts many aspects of cellular and organismal life, including protein expression level, translation accuracy, adequacy of folding, and even mRNA stability. As a result, the shape of the tRNA pool affects organismal health and may participate in causing conditions such as cancer and neurological conditions.
Keywords: anticodon; codon usage; genomic organization; protein abundance; tRNA; transfer RNA; translation fidelity.