Quantitative tRNA-sequencing uncovers metazoan tissue-specific tRNA regulation

Nat Commun. 2020 Aug 14;11(1):4104. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-17879-x.


Transfer RNAs (tRNA) are quintessential in deciphering the genetic code; disseminating nucleic acid triplets into correct amino acid identity. While this decoding function is clear, an emerging theme is that tRNA abundance and functionality can powerfully impact protein production rate, folding, activity, and messenger RNA stability. Importantly, however, the expression pattern of tRNAs is obliquely known. Here we present Quantitative Mature tRNA sequencing (QuantM-tRNA seq), a technique to monitor tRNA abundance and sequence variants secondary to RNA modifications. With QuantM-tRNA seq, we assess the tRNA transcriptome in mammalian tissues. We observe dramatic distinctions in isodecoder expression and known tRNA modifications between tissues. Remarkably, despite dramatic changes in tRNA isodecoder gene expression, the overall anticodon pool of each tRNA family is similar across tissues. These findings suggest that while anticodon pools appear to be buffered via an unknown mechanism, underlying transcriptomic and epitranscriptomic differences suggest a more complex tRNA regulatory landscape.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticodon / genetics
  • Blotting, Northern
  • Female
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing / methods*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • RNA Stability / genetics
  • RNA Stability / physiology
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • RNA, Transfer / genetics
  • RNA, Transfer / metabolism*


  • Anticodon
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Transfer