tRNA-derived small RNAs (tsRNA) are a recently identified family of non-coding RNA that have been associated with a variety of cellular functions including the regulation of protein translation and gene expression. Recent sequencing and bioinformatic studies have identified the broad spectrum of tsRNA in the nervous system and demonstrated that this new class of non-coding RNA is produced from tRNA by specific cleavage events catalysed by ribonucleases such as angiogenin and dicer. Evidence is also accumulating that production of tsRNA is increased during disease processes where they regulate stress responses, proteostasis, and neuronal survival. Mutations to tRNA cleaving and modifying enzymes have been implicated in several neurodegenerative disorders, and tsRNA levels in the blood are advancing as biomarkers for neurological disease. In this review we summarize the physiological importance of tsRNA in the central nervous system and their relevance to neurological disease.
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