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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Dec 24;110(52):21042-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1316579110. Epub 2013 Dec 2.

Retrograde transfer RNA nuclear import provides a new level of tRNA quality control in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

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Department of Molecular Genetics, Center for RNA Biology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210.


In eukaryotes, transfer RNAs (tRNAs) are transcribed in the nucleus yet function in the cytoplasm; thus, tRNA movement within the cell was believed to be unidirectional--from the nucleus to the cytoplasm. It is now known that mature tRNAs also move in a retrograde direction from the cytoplasm to the nucleus via retrograde tRNA nuclear import, a process that is conserved from yeast to vertebrates. The biological significance of this tRNA nuclear import is not entirely clear. We hypothesized that retrograde tRNA nuclear import might function in proofreading tRNAs to ensure that only proper tRNAs reside in the cytoplasm and interact with the translational machinery. Here we identify two major types of aberrant tRNAs in yeast: a 5', 3' end-extended, spliced tRNA and hypomodified tRNAs. We show that both types of aberrant tRNAs accumulate in mutant cells that are defective in tRNA nuclear traffic, suggesting that they are normally imported into the nucleus and are repaired or degraded. The retrograde pathway functions in parallel with the cytoplasmic rapid tRNA decay pathway previously demonstrated to monitor tRNA quality, and cells are not viable if they lack both pathways. Our data support the hypothesis that the retrograde process provides a newly discovered level of tRNA quality control as a pathway that monitors both end processing of pre-tRNAs and the modification state of mature tRNAs.


Los1; Mtr10; quality control pathways; tRNA processing errors; tRNA retrograde pathway

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