In the 1999 paper, Wakasugi and Schimmel showed that a member of the human aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase family, tyrosyl-tRNA synthetase (TyrRS), did more than adding the amino acid tyrosine to a protein chain during protein synthesis. In addition, a fragment of the protein could function to attract immune cells and to stimulate the growth of blood vessels.
The findings were met with astonishment and some skepticism in the scientific community.
Soon afterward, however, the Schimmel lab showed that another member of the family, TrpRS, also had a dual function. In addition to its role adding the amino acid tryptophan to a protein chain during protein synthesis, a fragment of TrpRS could inhibit new blood vessel formation.
Since that time, there has been considerable therapeutic interest in TyrRS, TrpRS, and other members of the aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase family. As a pro-angiogenic factor, the TyrRS fragment could be useful in diseases where growth of blood vessels is desirable, such as in some forms of heart disease or peripheral artery disease. Likewise, the TrpRS fragment's anti-angiogenic effects could help patients reduce undesirable blood vessel growth in diseases such as cancer and a great many eye diseases that lead to catastrophic vision loss.
In fact, fragments of TrpRS were used as part of a study led by Scripps Research Professor Martin Friedlander that successfully halted the progression in animal models of highly vascular brain tumor and neovascular eye disease (PNAS 2007 104:967-972).
Despite the interest in tRNA synthetases, however, no one has been able to figure out exactly how they perform their different rolesuntil now.
Mystery Mechanism Revealed
In the current study, the research team used a combination of techniques including structural modeling analysis, mutagenesi
|Contact: Keith McKeown|
Scripps Research Institute