The modified nucleoside 1-methyladenosine (m1A) is found in the T-loop of many tRNAs from organisms belonging to the three domains of life (Eukaryota, Bacteria, Archaea). In the T-loop of eukaryotic and bacterial tRNAs, m1A is present at position 58, whereas in archaeal tRNAs it is present at position(s) 58 and/or 57, m1A57 being the obligatory intermediate in the biosynthesis of 1-methylinosine (m1I57). In yeast, the formation of m1A58 is catalysed by the essential tRNA (m1A58) methyltransferase (MTase), a tetrameric enzyme that is composed of two types of subunits (Gcd14p and Gcd10p), whereas in the bacterium Thermus thermophilus the enzyme is a homotetramer of the TrmI polypeptide. Here, we report that the TrmI enzyme from the archaeon Pyrococcus abyssi is also a homotetramer. However, unlike the bacterial site-specific TrmI MTase, the P.abyssi enzyme is region-specific and catalyses the formation of m1A at two adjacent positions (57 and 58) in the T-loop of certain tRNAs. The stabilisation of P.abyssi TrmI at extreme temperatures involves intersubunit disulphide bridges that reinforce the tetrameric oligomerisation, as revealed by biochemical and crystallographic evidences. The origin and evolution of m1A MTases is discussed in the context of different hypotheses of the tree of life.
tRNA m1A58 methyltransferases (TrmI) catalyze the transfer of a methyl group from S-adenosyl-L-methionine to nitrogen 1 of adenine 58 in the T-loop of tRNAs from all three domains of life. The m1A58 modification has been shown to be essential for cell growth in yeast and for adaptation to high temperatures in thermophilic organisms. These enzymes were shown to be active as tetramers. The crystal structures of five TrmIs from hyperthermophilic archaea and thermophilic or mesophilic bacteria have previously been determined, the optimal growth temperature of these organisms ranging from 37°C to 100°C. All TrmIs are assembled as tetramers formed by dimers of tightly assembled dimers.
In this study, we present a comparative structural analysis of these TrmIs, which highlights factors that allow them to function over a large range of temperature. The monomers of the five enzymes are structurally highly similar, but the inter-monomer contacts differ strongly. Our analysis shows that bacterial enzymes from thermophilic organisms display additional intermolecular ionic interactions across the dimer interfaces, whereas hyperthermophilic enzymes present additional hydrophobic contacts. Moreover, as an alternative to two bidentate ionic interactions that stabilize the tetrameric interface in all other TrmI proteins, the tetramer of the archaeal P. abyssi enzyme is strengthened by four intersubunit disulfide bridges.
The availability of crystal structures of TrmIs from mesophilic, thermophilic or hyperthermophilic organisms allows a detailed analysis of the architecture of this protein family. Our structural comparisons provide insight into the different molecular strategies used to achieve the tetrameric organization in order to maintain the enzyme activity under extreme conditions.
In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a two-subunit methyltransferase (Mtase) encoded by the essential genes TRM6 and TRM61 is responsible for the formation of 1-methyladenosine, a modified nucleoside found at position 58 in tRNA that is critical for the stability of tRNAiMet. The crystal structure of the homotetrameric m1A58 tRNA Mtase from Mycobacterium tuberculosis, TrmI, has been solved and was used as a template to build a model of the yeast m1A58 tRNA Mtase heterotetramer. We altered amino acids in TRM6 and TRM61 that were predicted to be important for the stability of the heteroligomer based on this model. Yeast strains expressing trm6 and trm61 mutants exhibited growth phenotypes indicative of reduced m1A formation. In addition, recombinant mutant enzymes had reduced in vitro Mtase activity. We demonstrate that the mutations introduced do not prevent heteroligomer formation and do not disrupt binding of the cofactor S-adenosyl-l-methionine. Instead, amino acid substitutions in either Trm6p or Trm61p destroy the ability of the yeast m1A58 tRNA Mtase to bind tRNAiMet, indicating that each subunit contributes to tRNA binding and suggesting a structural alteration of the substrate-binding pocket occurs when these mutations are present.
Using a microarray that tiles all known yeast non-coding RNAs, we compared RNA from wild-type cells with RNA from mutants encoding known and putative RNA modifying enzymes. We show that at least five types of RNA modification (dihydrouridine, m1G, m22G, m1A and m26A) catalyzed by 10 different enzymes (Trm1p, Trm5, Trm10p, Dus1p-Dus4p, Dim1p, Gcd10p and Gcd14p) can be detected by virtue of differential hybridization to oligonucleotides on the array that are complementary to the modified sites. Using this approach, we identified a previously undetected m1A modification in GlnCTG tRNA, the formation of which is catalyzed by the Gcd10/Gcd14 complex.
N7-methylguanine at position 46 (m7G46) in tRNA is produced by tRNA (m7G46) methyltransferase (TrmB). To clarify the role of this modification, we made a trmB gene disruptant (ΔtrmB) of Thermus thermophilus, an extreme thermophilic eubacterium. The absence of TrmB activity in cell extract from the ΔtrmB strain and the lack of the m7G46 modification in tRNAPhe were confirmed by enzyme assay, nucleoside analysis and RNA sequencing. When the ΔtrmB strain was cultured at high temperatures, several modified nucleotides in tRNA were hypo-modified in addition to the lack of the m7G46 modification. Assays with tRNA modification enzymes revealed hypo-modifications of Gm18 and m1G37, suggesting that the m7G46 positively affects their formations. Although the lack of the m7G46 modification and the hypo-modifications do not affect the Phe charging activity of tRNAPhe, they cause a decrease in melting temperature of class I tRNA and degradation of tRNAPhe and tRNAIle. 35S-Met incorporation into proteins revealed that protein synthesis in ΔtrmB cells is depressed above 70°C. At 80°C, the ΔtrmB strain exhibits a severe growth defect. Thus, the m7G46 modification is required for cell viability at high temperatures via a tRNA modification network, in which the m7G46 modification supports introduction of other modifications.
Two archaeal tRNA methyltransferases belonging to the SPOUT superfamily and displaying unexpected activities are identified. These enzymes are orthologous to the yeast Trm10p methyltransferase, which catalyses the formation of 1-methylguanosine at position 9 of tRNA. In contrast, the Trm10p orthologue from the crenarchaeon Sulfolobus acidocaldarius forms 1-methyladenosine at the same position. Even more surprisingly, the Trm10p orthologue from the euryarchaeon Thermococcus kodakaraensis methylates the N1-atom of either adenosine or guanosine at position 9 in different tRNAs. This is to our knowledge the first example of a tRNA methyltransferase with a broadened nucleoside recognition capability. The evolution of tRNA methyltransferases methylating the N1 atom of a purine residue is discussed.
T. maritima TrmFO was overexpressed, purified and crystallized. A diffraction data set was collected to a resolution of 2.6 Å.
TrmFO, previously classified as GID, is a methyltransferase that catalyzes the formation of 5-methyluridine or ribothymidine (T) at position 54 in tRNA in some Gram-positive bacteria. To date, TrmFO is the only characterized tRNA methyltransferase that does not use S-adenosylmethionine as the methyl-group donor. Instead, the donor of the methyl group is N
10-methylenetetrahydrofolate. The crystallization and preliminary X-ray crystallographic studies of TrmFO are reported here. The recombinant protein, cloned from Thermotoga maritima genomic DNA, was overproduced in Esherichia coli and crystallized in 25%(v/v) PEG 4000, 100 mM NaCl and sodium citrate buffer pH 5.0 at 291 K using the hanging-drop vapor-diffusion method. The plate-shaped crystals diffracted to 2.6 Å and belong to the orthorhombic space group P212121, with unit-cell parameters a = 79.94, b = 92.46, c = 127.20 Å.
GIDs; TrmFO; RNA modifications
Modified nucleosides in tRNAs play important roles in tRNA structure, biosynthesis and function, and serve as crucial determinants of bacterial growth and virulence. In the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, mutants defective in N1-methylation of a highly conserved adenosine (A58) in the TΨC loop of initiator tRNA are non-viable. The yeast m1A58 methyltransferase is a heterotetramer consisting of two different polypeptide chains, Gcd14p and Gcd10p. Interestingly, while m1A58 is not found in most eubacteria, the mycobacterial tRNAs have m1A58. Here, we report on the cloning, overexpression, purification and biochemical characterization of the Rv2118c gene-encoded protein (Rv2118p) from Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which is homologous to yeast Gcd14p. We show that Rv2118c codes for a protein of ∼31 kDa. Activity assays, modified base analysis and primer extension experiments using reverse transcriptase reveal that Rv2118p is an S-adenosyl-l-methionine-dependent methyltransferase which carries out m1A58 modification in tRNAs, both in vivo and in vitro. Remarkably, when expressed in Escherichia coli, the enzyme methylates the endogenous E.coli initiator tRNA essentially quantitatively. Furthermore, unlike its eukaryotic counterpart, which is a heterotetramer, the mycobacterial enzyme is a homotetramer. Also, the presence of rT modification at position 54, which was found to inhibit the Tetrahymena pyriformis enzyme, does not affect the activity of Rv2118p. Thus, the mycobacterial m1A58 tRNA methyltransferase possesses distinct biochemical properties. We discuss aspects of the biological relevance of Rv2118p in M.tuberculosis, and its potential use as a drug target to control the growth of mycobacteria.
The S-adenosyl-l-methionine dependent methylation of adenine 58 in the T-loop of tRNAs is essential for cell growth in yeast or for adaptation to high temperatures in thermophilic organisms. In contrast to bacterial and eukaryotic tRNA m1A58 methyltransferases that are site-specific, the homologous archaeal enzyme from Pyrococcus abyssi catalyzes the formation of m1A also at the adjacent position 57, m1A57 being a precursor of 1-methylinosine. We report here the crystal structure of P. abyssi tRNA m1A57/58 methyltransferase (PabTrmI), in complex with S-adenosyl-l-methionine or S-adenosyl-l-homocysteine in three different space groups. The fold of the monomer and the tetrameric architecture are similar to those of the bacterial enzymes. However, the inter-monomer contacts exhibit unique features. In particular, four disulfide bonds contribute to the hyperthermostability of the archaeal enzyme since their mutation lowers the melting temperature by 16.5°C. His78 in conserved motif X, which is present only in TrmIs from the Thermococcocales order, lies near the active site and displays two alternative conformations. Mutagenesis indicates His78 is important for catalytic efficiency of PabTrmI. When A59 is absent in tRNAAsp, only A57 is modified. Identification of the methylated positions in tRNAAsp by mass spectrometry confirms that PabTrmI methylates the first adenine of an AA sequence.
Gcd10p and Gcd14p were first identified genetically as repressors of GCN4 mRNA translation in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Recent findings indicate that Gcd10p and Gcd14p reside in a nuclear complex required for the presence of 1-methyladenosine in tRNAs. Here we show that Gcd14p is an essential protein with predicted binding motifs for S-adenosylmethionine, consistent with a direct function in tRNA methylation. Two different gcd14 mutants exhibit defects in cell growth and accumulate high levels of initiator methionyl-tRNA (tRNAiMet) precursors containing 5′ and 3′ extensions, suggesting a defect in processing of the primary transcript. Dosage suppressors of gcd10 mutations, encoding tRNAiMet (hcIMT1 to hcIMT4; hc indicates that the gene is carried on a high-copy-number plasmid) or a homologue of human La protein implicated in tRNA 3′-end formation (hcLHP1), also suppressed gcd14 mutations. In fact, the lethality of a GCD14 deletion was suppressed by hcIMT4, indicating that the essential function of Gcd14p is required for biogenesis of tRNAiMet. A mutation in GCD10 or deletion of LHP1 exacerbated the defects in cell growth and expression of mature tRNAiMet in gcd14 mutants, consistent with functional interactions between Gcd14p, Gcd10p, and Lhp1p in vivo. Surprisingly, the amounts of NME1 and RPR1, the RNA components of RNases P and MRP, were substantially lower in gcd14 lhp1::LEU2 double mutants than in the corresponding single mutants, whereas 5S rRNA was present at wild-type levels. Our findings suggest that Gcd14p and Lhp1p cooperate in the maturation of a subset of RNA polymerase III transcripts.
Methyltransferases (MTases) form a major class of tRNA-modifying enzymes needed for the proper functioning of tRNA. Recently, RNA MTases from the TrmN/Trm14 family that are present in Archaea, Bacteria and Eukaryota have been shown to specifically modify tRNAPhe at guanosine 6 in the tRNA acceptor stem. Here, we report the first X-ray crystal structures of the tRNA m2G6 (N2-methylguanosine) MTase TTCTrmN from Thermus thermophilus and its ortholog PfTrm14 from Pyrococcus furiosus. Structures of PfTrm14 were solved in complex with the methyl donor S-adenosyl-l-methionine (SAM or AdoMet), as well as the reaction product S-adenosyl-homocysteine (SAH or AdoHcy) and the inhibitor sinefungin. TTCTrmN and PfTrm14 consist of an N-terminal THUMP domain fused to a catalytic Rossmann-fold MTase (RFM) domain. These results represent the first crystallographic structure analysis of proteins containing both THUMP and RFM domain, and hence provide further insight in the contribution of the THUMP domain in tRNA recognition and catalysis. Electrostatics and conservation calculations suggest a main tRNA binding surface in a groove between the THUMP domain and the MTase domain. This is further supported by a docking model of TrmN in complex with tRNAPhe of T. thermophilus and via site-directed mutagenesis.
The 5-methyluridine is invariably found at position 54 in the TΨC loop of tRNAs of most organisms. In Pyrococcus abyssi, its formation is catalyzed by the S-adenosyl-l-methionine-dependent tRNA (uracil-54, C5)-methyltransferase (PabTrmU54), an enzyme that emerged through an ancient horizontal transfer of an RNA (uracil, C5)-methyltransferase-like gene from bacteria to archaea. The crystal structure of PabTrmU54 in complex with S-adenosyl-l-homocysteine at 1.9 Å resolution shows the protein organized into three domains like Escherichia coli RumA, which catalyzes the same reaction at position 1939 of 23S rRNA. A positively charged groove at the interface between the three domains probably locates part of the tRNA-binding site of PabTrmU54. We show that a mini-tRNA lacking both the D and anticodon stem-loops is recognized by PabTrmU54. These results were used to model yeast tRNAAsp in the PabTrmU54 structure to get further insights into the different RNA specificities of RumA and PabTrmU54. Interestingly, the presence of two flexible loops in the central domain, unique to PabTrmU54, may explain the different substrate selectivities of both enzymes. We also predict that a large TΨC loop conformational change has to occur for the flipping of the target uridine into the PabTrmU54 active site during catalysis.
tRNA (m7G46) methyltransferase from E. coli was overexpressed, purified and crystallized. Diffraction data were collected to 2.04 Å resolution.
Transfer RNA (tRNA) (m7G46) methyltransferase (TrmB) belongs to the Rossmann-fold methyltransferase (RFM) family and uses S-adenosyl-l-methionine (SAM) as the methyl-group donor to catalyze the formation of N
7-methylguanosine (m7G) at position 46 in the variable loop of tRNAs. After attempts to crystallize full-length Escherichia coli TrmB (EcTrmB) failed, a truncated protein lacking the first 32 residues of the N-terminus but with an additional His6 tag at the C-terminus was crystallized by the hanging-drop vapour-diffusion method using polyethylene glycol 3350 (PEG 3350) as precipitant at 283 K. An X-ray diffraction data set was collected using a single flash-cooled crystal that belonged to space group P21.
tRNA (m7G46) methyltransferase; Rossmann-fold methyltransferase family
The tRNA(m5U54)methyltransferase, whose structural gene is designated trmA, catalyzes the formation of 5-methyluridine in position 54 of all tRNA species in Escherichia coli. The synthesis of this enzyme has previously been shown to be both growth rate dependent and stringently regulated, suggesting regulatory features similar to those of rRNA. We have determined the complete nucleotide sequence of the trmA operon in E. coli and the sequence of the trmA promoter region in Salmonella typhimurium and also analyzed the transcriptional regulation of the gene. The trmA and the btuB (encoding the vitamin B12 outer membrane receptor protein) promoters are divergent promoters separated by 102 bp between the transcriptional start sites. The trmA promoters of both E. coli and S. typhimurium share promoter elements with the rRNA P1 promoter. The sequence downstream from the -10 region of the trmA promoter is homologous to the discriminatory region found in stringently regulated promoters. Next to and upstream from the -10 region is a sequence, TCCC, in the trmA promoter that is present in all of the seven rRNA P1 promoters and in some tRNA promoters but not in any other sigma 70 promoter. However, a similar motif is also found in promoters transcribed by the heat shock sigma factor sigma 32. The trmA gene is transcribed as a monocistronic operon, and the 3' end of the transcript is shown to be located downstream from a dyad symmetry region not followed by a poly(U) stretch. Using a trmA-cat operon fusion, we show that the growth rate-dependent regulation of trmA resembles that of rRNA and operates at the level of transcription.
Throughout the kingdoms of life, transfer RNA (tRNA) undergoes over 100 enzyme-catalyzed, methyl-based modifications. Although a majority of the methylations are conserved from bacteria to mammals, the functions of a number of these modifications are unknown. Many of the proteins responsible for tRNA methylation, named tRNA methyltransferases (Trms), have been characterized in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In contrast, only a few human Trms have been characterized. A BLAST search for human homologs of each S. cerevisiae Trm revealed a total of 34 human proteins matching our search criteria for an S. cerevisiae Trm homolog candidate. We have compiled a database cataloging basic information about each human and yeast Trm. Every S. cerevisiae Trm has at least one human homolog, while several Trms have multiple candidates. A search of cancer cell versus normal cell mRNA expression studies submitted to Oncomine found that 30 of the homolog genes display a significant change in mRNA expression levels in at least one data set. While 6 of the 34 human homolog candidates have confirmed tRNA methylation activity, the other candidates remain uncharacterized. We believe that our database will serve as a resource for investigating the role of human Trms in cellular stress signaling.
The expression, purification, crystallization and X-ray diffraction analysis of tRNA m1A58 methyltransferase from S. cerevisiae are reported.
In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, TRM6 and TRM61 compose a tRNA methyltransferase which catalyzes the methylation of the N1 of adenine at position 58 in tRNAs, especially initiator methionine tRNA. TRM61 is the subunit that binds S-adenosyl-l-methionine and both subunits contribute to target tRNA binding. In order to elucidate the catalytic mechanism of TRM6–TRM61 and the mode of interaction between the two subunits, expression, purification, crystallization and X-ray diffraction analysis of the TRM6–TRM61 complex were performed in this study. The crystals diffracted to 2.80 Å resolution and belonged to the trigonal space group P3121 or P3221, with unit-cell parameters a = b = 139.14, c = 101.62 Å.
tRNA m1A58 methyltransferase; Saccharomyces cerevisiae
tRNA (adenine-1) methyltransferase occurs in Bacillus subtilis. Eucaryotic tRNAThr and tRNATyr from yeast in which 1-methyladenosine (m1A) is already present in the TpsiC loop, can be methylated in vitro with S-adenosylmethionine and B. subtilis extracts. Each of the specific tRNAs accepts 1 mol of methyl groups per mol tRNA. The enzyme transforms into m1A the 3'-terminal adenylic acid residue of the dihydrouridine loop, a new position for a modified adenosine residue in tRNA. Both tRNAs have the sequence Py-A-A-G-G-C-m2(2)G in the D-loop and D-stem region. Other tRNAs with the same sequence in this region also serve as substrates for the tRNA (adenine-1) methyltransferase.
The modified nucleosides N2-methylguanosine and N22-dimethylguanosine in transfer RNA occur at five positions in the D and anticodon arms, and at positions G6 and G7 in the acceptor stem. Trm1 and Trm11 enzymes are known to be responsible for several of the D/anticodon arm modifications, but methylases catalyzing post-transcriptional m2G synthesis in the acceptor stem are uncharacterized. Here, we report that the MJ0438 gene from Methanocaldococcus jannaschii encodes a novel S-adenosylmethionine-dependent methyltransferase, now identified as Trm14, which generates m2G at position 6 in tRNACys. The 381 amino acid Trm14 protein possesses a canonical RNA recognition THUMP domain at the amino terminus, followed by a γ-class Rossmann fold amino-methyltransferase catalytic domain featuring the signature NPPY active site motif. Trm14 is associated with cluster of orthologous groups (COG) 0116, and most closely resembles the m2G10 tRNA methylase Trm11. Phylogenetic analysis reveals a canonical archaeal/bacterial evolutionary separation with 20–30% sequence identities between the two branches, but it is likely that the detailed functions of COG 0116 enzymes differ between the archaeal and bacterial domains. In the archaeal branch, the protein is found exclusively in thermophiles. More distantly related Trm14 homologs were also identified in eukaryotes known to possess the m2G6 tRNA modification.
The enzyme catalyzing the formation of 5-methyluridine (ribothymidine) in tRNA of Escherichia coli is tRNA (uracil-5)-methyltransferase (EC 18.104.22.168). A 2.8-kilobase EcoRI chromosomal DNA fragment contains trmA, the structural gene for this enzyme. Subcloning, transcription in vitro, Tn5 insertion mutagenesis, and transcriptional fusion experiments were performed to establish the gene organization of the trmA region on the E. coli chromosome. trmA is a monocistronic operon. The trmA promoter was localized by in vitro experiments, and the direction of transcription was shown to be counterclockwise on the standard E. coli K-12 chromosomal map. The level of transcription of trmA in vitro and the expression of protein in minicells equal those of the bla gene of plasmid pBR322.
Unlike other transfer RNAs (tRNA)-modifying enzymes from the SPOUT methyltransferase superfamily, the tRNA (Um34/Cm34) methyltransferase TrmL lacks the usual extension domain for tRNA binding and consists only of a SPOUT domain. Both the catalytic and tRNA recognition mechanisms of this enzyme remain elusive. By using tRNAs purified from an Escherichia coli strain with the TrmL gene deleted, we found that TrmL can independently catalyze the methyl transfer from S-adenosyl-L-methionine to and isoacceptors without the involvement of other tRNA-binding proteins. We have solved the crystal structures of TrmL in apo form and in complex with S-adenosyl-homocysteine and identified the cofactor binding site and a possible active site. Methyltransferase activity and tRNA-binding affinity of TrmL mutants were measured to identify residues important for tRNA binding of TrmL. Our results suggest that TrmL functions as a homodimer by using the conserved C-terminal half of the SPOUT domain for catalysis, whereas residues from the less-conserved N-terminal half of the other subunit participate in tRNA recognition.
Methyltransferases that use S-adenosylmethionine (AdoMet) as a cofactor to catalyse 5-methyl uridine (m5U) formation in tRNAs and rRNAs are widespread in Bacteria and Eukaryota, and are also found in certain Archaea. These enzymes belong to the COG2265 cluster, and the Gram-negative bacterium Escherichia coli possesses three paralogues. These comprise the methyltransferases TrmA that targets U54 in tRNAs, RlmC that modifies U747 in 23S rRNA and RlmD that is specific for U1939 in 23S rRNA. The tRNAs and rRNAs of the Gram-positive bacterium Bacillus subtilis have the same three m5U modifications. However, as previously shown, the m5U54 modification in B. subtilis tRNAs is catalysed in a fundamentally different manner by the folate-dependent enzyme TrmFO, which is unrelated to the E. coli TrmA. Here, we show that methylation of U747 and U1939 in B. subtilis rRNA is catalysed by a single enzyme, YefA that is a COG2265 member. A recombinant version of YefA functions in an E. coli m5U-null mutant adding the same two rRNA methylations. The findings suggest that during evolution, COG2265 enzymes have undergone a series of changes in target specificity and that YefA is closer to an archetypical m5U methyltransferase. To reflect its dual specificity, YefA is renamed RlmCD.
Purified bulk tRNA from Methanococcus vanielii (carbon source, formate) showed variation in the modified nucleoside pattern reported for Escherichia coli as analyzed by both ion-exchange and thin-layer chromatography. Ribothymidine and 7-methylguanosine were absent; 1-methyladenosine, 1-methylguanosine, N2-methylguanosine, N2,N2-dimethylguanosine, thiolated nucleosides, pseudouridine, dihydrouridine, and O2'-methylcytidine were quantitated. In vitro methylation by M. Vannielii extracts with S-adenosylmethionine and undermethylated E. coli tRNA revealed active tRNA methyltransferases for formation of methylated residues found in native M. vannielii tRNA, but none for the formation of 7-methylguanosine or ribothymidine. The native M. vannielii tRNA became methylated in the 7-methylguanosine position by E. Coli extracts, but ribothymidine was not formed. Both M. vannielii and E. coli tRNA methyltransferases produced unidentified methylated residues in tRNA's lacking or deficient in ribothymidine.
Correct codon-anticodon pairing promotes translational fidelity, with these interactions greatly facilitated by modified nucleosides found in tRNA. We hypothesized that wobble uridine modifications catalyzed by tRNA methyltransferase 9 (Trm9) are essential for translational fidelity. In support, we have used phenotypic, reporter and protein-based assays to demonstrate increased translational infidelity in trm9Δ Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells. Codon reengineering studies suggest that Trm9-catalyzed tRNA modifications promote fidelity during the translation of specific genes, those rich in arginine and glutamic acid codons from mixed boxes. Using quantitative tRNA modification analysis, we determined that trm9Δ cells are only deficient in 2 of 23 tRNA modifications, with those 2, 5-methoxycarbonylmethyluridine (mcm5U) and 5-methoxycarbonylmethyl-2-thiouridine (mcm5s2U), classified as key determinants of translational fidelity. We also show that in the absence of mcm5U and mcm5s2U, the resulting translational infidelity promotes protein errors and activation of unfolded protein and heat shock responses. These data support a model in which Trm9-catalyzed tRNA modifications promote fidelity during the translation of specific transcripts, with decreased wobble base modification leading to translational infidelity, protein errors and activation of protein stress response pathways.
Trm9; codon; heat shock response; modification; protein stress; tRNA; translation infidelity; unfolded protein response; wobble base
The modified nucleosides 2′-O-methylguanosine, present at position 18 (Gm18), 5-methyluridine, present at position 54 (m5U54), and pseudouridine, present at position 55 (Ψ55), are located in the D and T arms of tRNAs and are close in space in the three-dimensional (3D) structure of this molecule in the bacterium Escherichia coli. The formation of these modified nucleosides is catalyzed by the products of genes trmH (Gm18), trmA (m5U54), and truB (Ψ55). The combination of trmH, trmA, and truB mutations resulting in lack of these three modifications reduced the growth rate, especially at high temperature. Moreover, the lack of three modified nucleotides in tRNA induced defects in the translation of certain codons, sensitivity to amino acid analog 3,4-dehydro-dl-proline, and an altered oxidation of some carbon compounds. The results are consistent with the suggestion that these modified nucleosides, two of which directly interact in the 3D structure of tRNA by forming a hydrogen bond between Ψ55 and Gm18, stabilize the structure of the tRNA. Moreover, lack of Ψ55 in tRNA of human pathogen Shigella flexneri leads to a reduced expression of several virulence-associated genes.
This paper presents the first example of a complete gene sequence coding for and expressing a biologically functional human tRNA methyltransferase: the hTRM1 gene product tRNA(m22G)dimethyltransferase. We isolated a human cDNA (1980 bp) made from placental mRNA coding for the full-length (659 amino acids) human TRM1 polypeptide. The sequence was fairly similar to Saccharomyces cerevisiae Trm1p, to Caenorhabditis elegans TRM1p and to open reading frames (ORFs) found in mouse and a plant (Arabidopsis thaliana) DNA. The human TRM1 gene was expressed at low temperature in Escherichia coli as a functional recombinant protein, able to catalyze the formation of dimethylguanosine in E.coli tRNA in vivo. It targeted solely position G26 in T7 transcribed spliced and unspliced human tRNATyr in vitro and in yeast trm1 mutant tRNA. Thus, the human TRM1 protein is a tRNA(m22G26)dimethyltransferase. Compared with yeast Trm1p, hTRM1p has a C-terminal protrusion of ∼90 amino acids which shows similarities to a mouse protein related to RNA splicing. A deletion of these 90 C-terminal amino acids left the modification activity in vitro intact. Among point mutations in the hTRM1 gene, only those located in conserved regions of hTRM1p completely eliminated modification activity.