tRNA dysregulation and disease

Nat Rev Genet. 2022 Nov;23(11):651-664. doi: 10.1038/s41576-022-00501-9. Epub 2022 Jun 9.


tRNAs are key adaptor molecules that decipher the genetic code during translation of mRNAs in protein synthesis. In contrast to the traditional view of tRNAs as ubiquitously expressed housekeeping molecules, awareness is now growing that tRNA-encoding genes display tissue-specific and cell type-specific patterns of expression, and that tRNA gene expression and function are both dynamically regulated by post-transcriptional RNA modifications. Moreover, dysregulation of tRNAs, mediated by alterations in either their abundance or function, can have deleterious consequences that contribute to several distinct human diseases, including neurological disorders and cancer. Accumulating evidence shows that reprogramming of mRNA translation through altered tRNA activity can drive pathological processes in a codon-dependent manner. This Review considers the emerging evidence in support of the precise control of functional tRNA levels as an important regulatory mechanism that coordinates mRNA translation and protein expression in physiological cell homeostasis, and highlights key examples of human diseases that are linked directly to tRNA dysregulation.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Codon
  • Humans
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • Proteomics
  • RNA Processing, Post-Transcriptional*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • RNA, Transfer* / genetics
  • RNA, Transfer* / metabolism


  • Codon
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Transfer