Phage tRNA genes

We have just published a paper describing how phages affect translation of proteins very specifically. In our case, the phage expressed a peptide deformylase with increased specificty for proteins involved in photosynthesis. That lead me to wonder how else phages affect protein synthesis, and whether they are merely trying to increase the amount of proteins being made. One way to do that might be to increase the number of tRNA-Met initiator tRNAs. To test this hypothesis I ¬†counted all the tRNAs in all the phages to see which is the most abundant. It wasn’t tRNA-Met, and after the read more I will tell you what it was.



I used tRNAScan-SE to identify all the tRNAs in all the phages in the PhAnToMe database, and from the output from tRNAScan-SE I counted all the different types. Here is a table listing all the tRNAs and their frequency in the phages:




tRNA Count tRNA Count tRNA Count
Arg 194 Pro 103 Ser 53
Leu 177 Gln 92 Ile 52
Met 168 Trp 86 His 48
Pseudo 166 Glu 78 Ala 48
Thr 137 Val 77 Tyr 41
Asn 124 Asp 72 Undet 30
Gly 120 Phe 62 Sup 19
Lys 112 Cys 55


This is all of the tRNAs, and clearly there are some really big differences. A question to answer is why some tRNAs more abundant than any others?