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Mob Genet Elements. 2017 Nov 1;7(5):1-6. doi: 10.1080/2159256X.2017.1393490. eCollection 2017.

tRNAs as primers and inhibitors of retrotransposons.

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Department of Plant Biology, Uppsala BioCenter, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Linnean Center for Plant Biology, Uppsala, Sweden.


The functional relationship between tRNAs and retrotransposons have been known for more than 35 years. tRNAs are used as primer molecules to guide the reverse transcription of retrotransposons. Recently, tRNAs have also emerge as important players in the postranscriptional regulation of retrotransposons by means of tRNA-derived small RNAs. This surprisingly new layer of regulation indicates that tRNAs are used both in the promotion and the suppression of the reverse transcription of retrotransposons indicating their primary role in the life cycle of LTR retrotransposons. This adds another level of translational control to tRNAs. Here we review the different known levels of interactions of tRNAs and retrotransposons and highlight the unknown parts of this interaction.


RNAi; retrotransposons; small RNAs; tRNA-derived fragments; tRNAs

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