Functional defects in transfer RNAs lead to the accumulation of ribosomal RNA precursors. Academic Article uri icon


  • Normal expression and function of transfer RNA (tRNA) are of paramount importance for translation. In this study, we show that tRNA defects are also associated with increased levels of immature ribosomal RNA (rRNA). This association was first shown in detail for a mutant strain that underproduces tRNA(Arg2) in which unprocessed 16S and 23S rRNA levels were increased several-fold. Ribosome profiles indicated that unprocessed 23S rRNA in the mutant strain accumulates in ribosomal fractions that sediment with altered mobility. Underproduction of tRNA(Arg2) also resulted in growth defects under standard laboratory growth conditions. Interestingly, the growth and rRNA processing defects were attenuated when cells were grown in minimal medium or at low temperatures, indicating that the requirement for tRNA(Arg2) may be reduced under conditions of slower growth. Other tRNA defects were also studied, including a defect in RNase P, an enzyme involved in tRNA processing; a mutation in tRNA(Trp) that results in its degradation at elevated temperatures; and the titration of the tRNA that recognizes rare AGA codons. In all cases, the levels of unprocessed 16S and 23S rRNA were enhanced. Thus, a range of tRNA defects can indirectly influence translation via effects on the biogenesis of the translation apparatus.

publication date

  • April 2007