Author(s): Lee SR, Collins K
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Abstract Amino acid deprivation triggers dramatic physiological responses in all organisms, altering both the synthesis and destruction of RNA and protein. Here we describe, using the ciliate Tetrahymena thermophila, a previously unidentified response to amino acid deprivation in which mature transfer RNA (tRNA) is cleaved in the anticodon loop. We observed that anticodon loop cleavage affects a small fraction of most or all tRNA sequences. Accumulation of cleaved tRNA is temporally coordinated with the morphological and metabolic changes of adaptation to starvation. The starvation-induced endonucleolytic cleavage activity targets tRNAs that have undergone maturation by 5' and 3' end processing and base modification. Curiously, the majority of cleaved tRNAs lack the 3' terminal CCA nucleotides required for aminoacylation. Starvation-induced tRNA cleavage is inhibited in the presence of essential amino acids, independent of the persistence of other starvation-induced responses. Our findings suggest that anticodon loop cleavage may reduce the accumulation of uncharged tRNAs as part of a specific response induced by amino acid starvation.
This article was published in J Biol Chem
and referenced in Cell & Developmental Biology