Molecule of the Month
December 2016
A Misbehaved tRNA-Derived Fragment

Transfer RNAs are known to deliver amino acids to the ribosome during the process of protein biosynthesis. Here we identify a tRNA-derived fragment that is produced under certain stress conditions that behaves in a radically different manner. Like its "mother molecule", the tRNA, the tRNA fragment binds to the ribosome, but instead of participating in protein biosynthesis, it inhibits translation globally by competing with messenger RNA.
This unprecedented role of a tRNA fragment expands the regulatory repertoire of non-coding RNAs during gene expression.

This work was carried out by Jennifer Gebetsberger & Leander Wyss and colleagues in the group of Prof. Norbert Polacek.


  • J. Gebetsberger, L. Wyss, A. M. Mleczko, J. Reuther, N. Polacek;
    "A tRNA-derived fragment competes with mRNA for ribosome binding and regulates translation during stress"
    RNA Biology, in press. doi:10.1080/15476286.2016.1257470.