Lost in Translation: Researchers Discover Surprising Amount of Variation in tRNA Genes; Suggest Possible Role in Disease

A molecule called transfer ribonucleic acid (tRNA), is an essential component of the human genome that acts as a translator. It reads the genetic code and translates it into proteins - one of the key building blocks of the human body. When researchers and clinicians investigate the genome's relation to disease, they have traditionally focused on mutations in the code for proteins. But now researchers at Western University in Canada have shown that the genes encoding tRNAs can also have mutations that cause the code to be misread, and in greater numbers than previously thought. Think of it like a translator app on your phone - if it has errors in its software, the output is going to be all wrong, even if the original text is correct. The results of the new study were published online on August 13, 2019 in RNA Biology. The article is titled “Targeted Sequencing Reveals Expanded Genetic Diversity of Human Transfer RNAs.” "This actually changes the way we think about the genetic code," said lead author Mathew Berg, a PhD Candidate at Western's Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry.
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