Unique roles of tryptophanyl-tRNA synthetase in immune control and its therapeutic implications

Exp Mol Med. 2019 Jan 7;51(1):1-10. doi: 10.1038/s12276-018-0196-9.


Tryptophanyl tRNA synthetase (WRS) is an essential enzyme as it catalyzes the ligation of tryptophan to its cognate tRNA during translation. Interestingly, mammalian WRS has evolved to acquire domains or motifs for novel functions beyond protein synthesis; WRS can also further expand its functions via alternative splicing and proteolytic cleavage. WRS is localized not only to the nucleus but also to the extracellular space, playing a key role in innate immunity, angiogenesis, and IFN-γ signaling. In addition, the expression of WRS varies significantly in different tissues and pathological states, implying that it plays unique roles in physiological homeostasis and immune defense. This review addresses the current knowledge regarding the evolution, structural features, and context-dependent functions of WRS, particularly focusing on its roles in immune regulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Immune System Diseases / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tryptophan-tRNA Ligase / chemistry
  • Tryptophan-tRNA Ligase / genetics
  • Tryptophan-tRNA Ligase / metabolism*


  • Tryptophan-tRNA Ligase