tRNA cleavage is a conserved response to oxidative stress in eukaryotes.
Recent results have identified a diversity of small RNAs in a wide range of organisms. In this work, we demonstrate that Saccharomyces cerevisiae contains a small RNA population consisting primarily of tRNA halves and rRNA fragments. Both 5' and 3' fragments of tRNAs are detectable by Northern blot analysis, suggesting a process of endonucleolytic cleavage. tRNA and rRNA fragment production in yeast is most pronounced during oxidative stress conditions, especially during entry into stationary phase. Similar tRNA fragments are also observed in human cell lines and in plants during oxidative stress. These results demonstrate that tRNA cleavage is a conserved aspect of the response to oxidative stress.