Extracellular tRNAs and tRNA-derived fragments.RNA Biol. 2020 08; 17(8):1149-1167.RB
Fragmentation of tRNAs generates a family of small RNAs collectively known as tRNA-derived fragments. These fragments vary in sequence and size but have been shown to regulate many processes involved in cell homoeostasis and adaptations to stress. Additionally, the field of extracellular RNAs (exRNAs) is rapidly growing because exRNAs are a promising source of biomarkers in liquid biopsies, and because exRNAs seem to play key roles in intercellular and interspecies communication. Herein, we review recent descriptions of tRNA-derived fragments in the extracellular space in all domains of life, both in biofluids and in cell culture. The purpose of this review is to find consensus on which tRNA-derived fragments are more prominent in each extracellular fraction (including extracellular vesicles, lipoproteins and ribonucleoprotein complexes). We highlight what is becoming clear and what is still controversial in this field, in order to stimulate future hypothesis-driven studies which could clarify the role of full-length tRNAs and tRNA-derived fragments in the extracellular space.