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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Aug 12;105(32):11043-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0802862105. Epub 2008 Aug 5.

Aminoacyl tRNA synthetases and their connections to disease.

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Clinical Research Institute, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul 110-744, Korea.


Aminoacylation of transfer RNAs establishes the rules of the genetic code. The reactions are catalyzed by an ancient group of 20 enzymes (one for each amino acid) known as aminoacyl tRNA synthetases (AARSs). Surprisingly, the etiology of specific diseases-including cancer, neuronal pathologies, autoimmune disorders, and disrupted metabolic conditions-is connected to specific aminoacyl tRNA synthetases. These connections include heritable mutations in the genes for tRNA synthetases that are causally linked to disease, with both dominant and recessive disease-causing mutations being annotated. Because some disease-causing mutations do not affect aminoacylation activity or apparent enzyme stability, the mutations are believed to affect functions that are distinct from aminoacylation. Examples include enzymes that are secreted as procytokines that, after activation, operate in pathways connected to the immune system or angiogenesis. In addition, within cells, synthetases form multiprotein complexes with each other or with other regulatory factors and in that way control diverse signaling pathways. Although much has been uncovered in recent years, many novel functions, disease connections, and interpathway connections of tRNA synthetases have yet to be worked out.

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