A tRNA half modulates translation as stress response in Trypanosoma brucei

Nat Commun. 2019 Jan 10;10(1):118. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-07949-6.


In the absence of extensive transcription control mechanisms the pathogenic parasite Trypanosoma brucei crucially depends on translation regulation to orchestrate gene expression. However, molecular insight into regulating protein biosynthesis is sparse. Here we analyze the small non-coding RNA (ncRNA) interactome of ribosomes in T. brucei during different growth conditions and life stages. Ribosome-associated ncRNAs have recently been recognized as unprecedented regulators of ribosome functions. Our data show that the tRNAThr 3´half is produced during nutrient deprivation and becomes one of the most abundant tRNA-derived RNA fragments (tdRs). tRNAThr halves associate with ribosomes and polysomes and stimulate translation by facilitating mRNA loading during stress recovery once starvation conditions ceased. Blocking or depleting the endogenous tRNAThr halves mitigates this stimulatory effect both in vivo and in vitro. T. brucei and its close relatives lack the well-described mammalian enzymes for tRNA half processing, thus hinting at a unique tdR biogenesis in these parasites.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Polyribosomes / genetics
  • Polyribosomes / metabolism
  • Protein Biosynthesis / genetics*
  • Protozoan Proteins / genetics
  • Protozoan Proteins / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • RNA, Protozoan / genetics
  • RNA, Protozoan / metabolism
  • RNA, Small Untranslated / genetics
  • RNA, Small Untranslated / metabolism
  • RNA, Transfer / genetics*
  • RNA, Transfer / metabolism
  • RNA, Transfer, Thr / genetics
  • RNA, Transfer, Thr / metabolism
  • Ribosomes / genetics*
  • Ribosomes / metabolism
  • Stress, Physiological
  • Trypanosoma brucei brucei / genetics*
  • Trypanosoma brucei brucei / metabolism


  • Protozoan Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Protozoan
  • RNA, Small Untranslated
  • RNA, Transfer, Thr
  • RNA, Transfer