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The aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases are an essential and universally distributed family of enzymes that plays a critical role in protein synthesis, pairing tRNAs with their cognate amino acids for decoding mRNAs according to the genetic code. Synthetases help to ensure accurate translation of the genetic code by using both highly accurate cognate substrate recognition and stringent proofreading of noncognate products. While alterations in the quality control mechanisms of synthetases are generally detrimental to cellular viability, recent studies suggest that in some instances such changes facilitate adaption to stress conditions. Beyond their central role in translation, synthetases are also emerging as key players in an increasing number of other cellular processes, with far-reaching consequences in health and disease. The biochemical versatility of the synthetases has also proven pivotal in efforts to expand the genetic code, further emphasizing the wide-ranging roles of the aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase family in synthetic and natural biology.


This article was originally published in RNA, volume 26, in 2020.


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