tRNAs are fundamental components of translation and emerging evidence places them more centrally in various other cellular processes. However, rather than being uniformly conserved, tRNA abundance is instead highly variable and adaptable. The amount of tRNA genes greatly differs among species. Moreover, even within the same genome, tRNA abundance shapes the proteome in a tissue- and cell-specific manner and is dynamically regulated in response to stress. Here, we review approaches for identification and quantification of tRNAs and their functional integrity. We discuss the resolution of each method and highlight new approaches with cell-wide resolution based on deep-sequencing technologies.

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