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1.  A primordial RNA modification enzyme: the case of tRNA (m1A) methyltransferase 
Nucleic Acids Research  2004;32(2):465-476.
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.
PMCID: PMC373318  PMID: 14739239
2.  Structural comparison of tRNA m1A58 methyltransferases revealed different molecular strategies to maintain their oligomeric architecture under extreme conditions 
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.
PMCID: PMC3281791  PMID: 22168821
3.  Crystal structure of tRNA m1A58 methyltransferase TrmI from Aquifex aeolicus in complex with S-adenosyl-l-methionine 
The N1-methyladenosine residue at position 58 of tRNA is found in the three domains of life, and contributes to the stability of the three-dimensional L-shaped tRNA structure. In thermophilic bacteria, this modification is important for thermal adaptation, and is catalyzed by the tRNA m1A58 methyltransferase TrmI, using S-adenosyl-l-methionine (AdoMet) as the methyl donor. We present the 2.2 Å crystal structure of TrmI from the extremely thermophilic bacterium Aquifex aeolicus, in complex with AdoMet. There are four molecules per asymmetric unit, and they form a tetramer. Based on a comparison of the AdoMet binding mode of A. aeolicus TrmI to those of the Thermus thermophilus and Pyrococcus abyssi TrmIs, we discuss their similarities and differences. Although the binding modes to the N6 amino group of the adenine moiety of AdoMet are similar, using the side chains of acidic residues as well as hydrogen bonds, the positions of the amino acid residues involved in binding are diverse among the TrmIs from A. aeolicus, T. thermophilus, and P. abyssi.
PMCID: PMC4125815  PMID: 24894648
AdoMet; tRNA modification enzyme; Methylation; X-ray crystal structure; Structural genomics
4.  Insights into the hyperthermostability and unusual region-specificity of archaeal Pyrococcus abyssi tRNA m1A57/58 methyltransferase 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;38(18):6206-6218.
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.
PMCID: PMC2952851  PMID: 20483913
5.  Conserved amino acids in each subunit of the heteroligomeric tRNA m1A58 Mtase from Saccharomyces cerevisiae contribute to tRNA binding 
Nucleic Acids Research  2007;35(20):6808-6819.
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.
PMCID: PMC2175304  PMID: 17932071
6.  Dynamics of RNA modification by a multi-site-specific tRNA methyltransferase 
Nucleic Acids Research  2014;42(18):11697-11706.
In most organisms, the widely conserved 1-methyl-adenosine58 (m1A58) tRNA modification is catalyzed by an S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAM)-dependent, site-specific enzyme TrmI. In archaea, TrmI also methylates the adjacent adenine 57, m1A57 being an obligatory intermediate of 1-methyl-inosine57 formation. To study this multi-site specificity, we used three oligoribonucleotide substrates of Pyrococcus abyssi TrmI (PabTrmI) containing a fluorescent 2-aminopurine (2-AP) at the two target positions and followed the RNA binding kinetics and methylation reactions by stopped-flow and mass spectrometry. PabTrmI did not modify 2-AP but methylated the adjacent target adenine. 2-AP seriously impaired the methylation of A57 but not A58, confirming that PabTrmI methylates efficiently the first adenine of the A57A58A59 sequence. PabTrmI binding provoked a rapid increase of fluorescence, attributed to base unstacking in the environment of 2-AP. Then, a slow decrease was observed only with 2-AP at position 57 and SAM, suggesting that m1A58 formation triggers RNA release. A model of the protein–tRNA complex shows both target adenines in proximity of SAM and emphasizes no major tRNA conformational change except base flipping during the reaction. The solvent accessibility of the SAM pocket is not affected by the tRNA, thereby enabling S-adenosyl-L-homocysteine to be replaced by SAM without prior release of monomethylated tRNA.
PMCID: PMC4191401  PMID: 25217588
7.  Mycobacterium tuberculosis Rv2118c codes for a single-component homotetrameric m1A58 tRNA methyltransferase 
Nucleic Acids Research  2004;32(3):1018-1027.
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.
PMCID: PMC373377  PMID: 14960715
8.  The YqfN protein of Bacillus subtilis is the tRNA: m1A22 methyltransferase (TrmK) 
Nucleic Acids Research  2008;36(10):3252-3262.
N1-methylation of adenosine to m1A occurs in several different positions in tRNAs from various organisms. A methyl group at position N1 prevents Watson–Crick-type base pairing by adenosine and is therefore important for regulation of structure and stability of tRNA molecules. Thus far, only one family of genes encoding enzymes responsible for m1A methylation at position 58 has been identified, while other m1A methyltransferases (MTases) remain elusive. Here, we show that Bacillus subtilis open reading frame yqfN is necessary and sufficient for N1-adenosine methylation at position 22 of bacterial tRNA. Thus, we propose to rename YqfN as TrmK, according to the traditional nomenclature for bacterial tRNA MTases, or TrMet(m1A22) according to the nomenclature from the MODOMICS database of RNA modification enzymes. tRNAs purified from a ΔtrmK strain are a good substrate in vitro for the recombinant TrmK protein, which is sufficient for m1A methylation at position 22 as are tRNAs from Escherichia coli, which natively lacks m1A22. TrmK is conserved in Gram-positive bacteria and present in some Gram-negative bacteria, but its orthologs are apparently absent from archaea and eukaryota. Protein structure prediction indicates that the active site of TrmK does not resemble the active site of the m1A58 MTase TrmI, suggesting that these two enzymatic activities evolved independently.
PMCID: PMC2425500  PMID: 18420655
9.  Crystal structures of the tRNA:m2G6 methyltransferase Trm14/TrmN from two domains of life 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;40(11):5149-5161.
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.
PMCID: PMC3367198  PMID: 22362751
10.  N7-Methylguanine at position 46 (m7G46) in tRNA from Thermus thermophilus is required for cell viability at high temperatures through a tRNA modification network 
Nucleic Acids Research  2009;38(3):942-957.
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.
PMCID: PMC2817472  PMID: 19934251
11.  The yfhQ gene of Escherichia coli encodes a tRNA:Cm32/Um32 methyltransferase 
Naturally occurring tRNAs contain numerous modified nucleosides. They are formed by enzymatic modification of the primary transcripts during the complex RNA maturation process. In model organisms Escherichia coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae most enzymes involved in this process have been identified. Interestingly, it was found that tRNA methylation, one of the most common modifications, can be introduced by S-adenosyl-L-methionine (AdoMet)-dependent methyltransferases (MTases) that belong to two structurally and phylogenetically unrelated protein superfamilies: RFM and SPOUT.
As a part of a large-scale project aiming at characterization of a complete set of RNA modification enzymes of model organisms, we have studied the Escherichia coli proteins YibK, LasT, YfhQ, and YbeA for their ability to introduce the last unassigned methylations of ribose at positions 32 and 34 of the tRNA anticodon loop. We found that YfhQ catalyzes the AdoMet-dependent formation of Cm32 or Um32 in tRNASer1 and tRNAGln2 and that an E. coli strain with a disrupted yfhQ gene lacks the tRNA:Cm32/Um32 methyltransferase activity. Thus, we propose to rename YfhQ as TrMet(Xm32) according to the recently proposed, uniform nomenclature for all RNA modification enzymes, or TrmJ, according to the traditional nomenclature for bacterial tRNA MTases.
Our results reveal that methylation at position 32 is carried out by completely unrelated TrMet(Xm32) enzymes in eukaryota and prokaryota (RFM superfamily member Trm7 and SPOUT superfamily member TrmJ, respectively), mirroring the scenario observed in the case of the m1G37 modification (introduced by the RFM member Trm5 in eukaryota and archaea, and by the SPOUT member TrmD in bacteria).
PMCID: PMC1569432  PMID: 16848900
12.  The 2′-O-methylation status of a single guanosine controls transfer RNA–mediated Toll-like receptor 7 activation or inhibition 
Bacterial transfer RNA can suppress the immunostimulatory activity of other bacterial tRNAs as a result of the presence of a guanosine modification.
Foreign RNA serves as pathogen-associated molecular pattern (PAMP) and is a potent immune stimulator for innate immune receptors. However, the role of single bacterial RNA species in immune activation has not been characterized in detail. We analyzed the immunostimulatory potential of transfer RNA (tRNA) from different bacteria. Interestingly, bacterial tRNA induced type I interferon (IFN) and inflammatory cytokines in mouse dendritic cells (DCs) and human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). Cytokine production was TLR7 dependent because TLR7-deficient mouse DCs did not respond and TLR7 inhibitory oligonucleotides inhibited tRNA-mediated activation. However, not all bacterial tRNA induced IFN-α because tRNA from Escherichia coli Nissle 1917 and Thermus thermophilus were non-immunostimulatory. Of note, tRNA from an E. coli knockout strain for tRNA (Gm18)-2′-O-methyltransferase (trmH) regained immunostimulatory potential. Additionally, in vitro methylation of this immunostimulatory Gm18-negative tRNA with recombinant trmH from T. thermophilus abolished its IFN-α inducing potential. More importantly, Gm18-modified tRNA acted as TLR7 antagonist and blocked IFN-α induction of influenza A virus–infected PBMCs.
PMCID: PMC3280869  PMID: 22312111
13.  Transfer RNA Methytransferases and Their Corresponding Modifications in Budding Yeast and Humans: Activities, Predications, and Potential Roles in Human Health 
DNA and Cell Biology  2012;31(4):434-454.
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.
PMCID: PMC3322404  PMID: 22191691
14.  The flavoprotein Mcap0476 (RlmFO) catalyzes m5U1939 modification in Mycoplasma capricolum 23S rRNA 
Nucleic Acids Research  2014;42(12):8073-8082.
Efficient protein synthesis in all organisms requires the post-transcriptional methylation of specific ribosomal ribonucleic acid (rRNA) and transfer RNA (tRNA) nucleotides. The methylation reactions are almost invariably catalyzed by enzymes that use S-adenosylmethionine (AdoMet) as the methyl group donor. One noteworthy exception is seen in some bacteria, where the conserved tRNA methylation at m5U54 is added by the enzyme TrmFO using flavin adenine dinucleotide together with N5,N10-methylenetetrahydrofolate as the one-carbon donor. The minimalist bacterium Mycoplasma capricolum possesses two homologs of trmFO, but surprisingly lacks the m5U54 tRNA modification. We created single and dual deletions of the trmFO homologs using a novel synthetic biology approach. Subsequent analysis of the M. capricolum RNAs by mass spectrometry shows that the TrmFO homolog encoded by Mcap0476 specifically modifies m5U1939 in 23S rRNA, a conserved methylation catalyzed by AdoMet-dependent enzymes in all other characterized bacteria. The Mcap0476 methyltransferase (renamed RlmFO) represents the first folate-dependent flavoprotein seen to modify ribosomal RNA.
PMCID: PMC4081110  PMID: 24939895
15.  The tRNA recognition mechanism of the minimalist SPOUT methyltransferase, TrmL 
Nucleic Acids Research  2013;41(16):7828-7842.
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.
PMCID: PMC3763551  PMID: 23804755
16.  GCD14p, a Repressor of GCN4 Translation, Cooperates with Gcd10p and Lhp1p in the Maturation of Initiator Methionyl-tRNA in Saccharomyces cerevisiae† 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1999;19(6):4167-4181.
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.
PMCID: PMC104376  PMID: 10330157
17.  Identification of determinants for tRNA substrate recognition by Escherichia coli C/U34 2′-O-methyltransferase 
RNA Biology  2015;12(8):900-911.
Post-transcriptional modifications bring chemical diversity to tRNAs, especially at positions 34 and 37 of the anticodon stem-loop (ASL). TrmL is the prokaryotic methyltransferase that catalyzes the transfer of the methyl group from S-adenosyl-L-methionine to the wobble base of tRNALeuCAA and tRNALeuUAA isoacceptors. This Cm34/Um34 modification affects codon-anticodon interactions and is essential for translational fidelity. TrmL-catalyzed 2′-O-methylation requires its homodimerization; however, understanding of the tRNA recognition mechanism by TrmL remains elusive. In the current study, by measuring tRNA methylation by TrmL and performing kinetic analysis of tRNA mutants, we found that TrmL exhibits a fine-tuned tRNA substrate recognition mechanism. Anticodon stem-loop minihelices with an extension of 2 base pairs are the minimal substrate for EcTrmL methylation. A35 is a key residue for TrmL recognition, while A36-A37-A38 are important either via direct interaction with TrmL or due to the necessity for prior isopentenylation (i6) at A37. In addition, TrmL only methylates pyrimidines but not purine residues at the wobble position, and the 2′-O-methylation relies on prior N6-isopentenyladenosine modification at position 37.
PMCID: PMC4615657  PMID: 26106808
recognition determinants; TrmL; tRNA modification; wobble base; 2′-O-methyltransferase
18.  tRNA recognition by a bacterial tRNA Xm32 modification enzyme from the SPOUT methyltransferase superfamily 
Nucleic Acids Research  2015;43(15):7489-7503.
TrmJ proteins from the SPOUT methyltransferase superfamily are tRNA Xm32 modification enzymes that occur in bacteria and archaea. Unlike archaeal TrmJ, bacterial TrmJ require full-length tRNA molecules as substrates. It remains unknown how bacterial TrmJs recognize substrate tRNAs and specifically catalyze a 2′-O modification at ribose 32. Herein, we demonstrate that all six Escherichia coli (Ec) tRNAs with 2′-O-methylated nucleosides at position 32 are substrates of EcTrmJ, and we show that the elbow region of tRNA, but not the amino acid acceptor stem, is needed for the methylation reaction. Our crystallographic study reveals that full-length EcTrmJ forms an unusual dimer in the asymmetric unit, with both the catalytic SPOUT domain and C-terminal extension forming separate dimeric associations. Based on these findings, we used electrophoretic mobility shift assay, isothermal titration calorimetry and enzymatic methods to identify amino acids within EcTrmJ that are involved in tRNA binding. We found that tRNA recognition by EcTrmJ involves the cooperative influences of conserved residues from both the SPOUT and extensional domains, and that this process is regulated by the flexible hinge region that connects these two domains.
PMCID: PMC4551947  PMID: 26202969
19.  The crystal structure of Pyrococcus abyssi tRNA (uracil-54, C5)-methyltransferase provides insights into its tRNA specificity 
Nucleic Acids Research  2008;36(15):4929-4940.
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.
PMCID: PMC2528175  PMID: 18653523
20.  Control of Catalytic Cycle by A Pair of Analogous tRNA Modification Enzymes 
Journal of molecular biology  2010;400(2):204-217.
Enzymes that use distinct active site structures to perform identical reactions are known as analogous enzymes. The isolation of analogous enzymes suggests the existence of multiple enzyme structural pathways that can catalyze the same chemical reaction. A fundamental question concerning analogous enzymes is whether their distinct active-site structures would confer the same or different kinetic constraints to the chemical reaction, particularly with respect to the control of enzyme turnover. Here we address this question with the analogous enzymes of bacterial TrmD and its eukaryotic and archaeal counterpart Trm5. While both TrmD and Trm5 catalyze methyl transfer to synthesize the m1G37 base at the 3' position adjacent to the tRNA anticodon, using S-adenosyl methionine (AdoMet) as the methyl donor, TrmD features a trefoil-knot active-site structure whereas Trm5 features the Rossmann fold. Pre-steady-state analysis revealed that product synthesis by TrmD proceeds linearly with time, whereas that by Trm5 exhibits a rapid burst followed by a slower and linear increase with time. The burst kinetics of Trm5 suggests that product release is the rate-limiting step of the catalytic cycle, consistent with the observation of higher enzyme affinities to the products of tRNA and AdoMet. In contrast, the lack of burst kinetics of TrmD suggests that its turnover is controlled by a step required for product synthesis. Although TrmD exists as a homodimer, it showed “half-of-the-sites” reactivity for tRNA binding and product synthesis. The kinetic differences between TrmD and Trm5 are parallel to those between the two classes of aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases, which use distinct active-site structures to catalyze tRNA aminoacylation. This parallel suggests that the findings have a fundamental importance for enzymes that catalyze both methyl and aminoacyl transfer to tRNA in the decoding process.
PMCID: PMC2892103  PMID: 20452364
Trm5; TrmD; burst kinetics; tRNA(m1G37); half-of-the-site reactivity
21.  Crystallization and preliminary X-ray crystallographic characterization of TrmFO, a folate-dependent tRNA methyltransferase from Thermotoga maritima  
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 5,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.
PMCID: PMC2374164  PMID: 18323606
GIDs; TrmFO; RNA modifications
22.  Trm9-Catalyzed tRNA Modifications Regulate Global Protein Expression by Codon-Biased Translation 
PLoS Genetics  2015;11(12):e1005706.
Post-transcriptional modifications of transfer RNAs (tRNAs) have long been recognized to play crucial roles in regulating the rate and fidelity of translation. However, the extent to which they determine global protein production remains poorly understood. Here we use quantitative proteomics to show a direct link between wobble uridine 5-methoxycarbonylmethyl (mcm5) and 5-methoxy-carbonyl-methyl-2-thio (mcm5s2) modifications catalyzed by tRNA methyltransferase 9 (Trm9) in tRNAArg(UCU) and tRNAGlu(UUC) and selective translation of proteins from genes enriched with their cognate codons. Controlling for bias in protein expression and alternations in mRNA expression, we find that loss of Trm9 selectively impairs expression of proteins from genes enriched with AGA and GAA codons under both normal and stress conditions. Moreover, we show that AGA and GAA codons occur with high frequency in clusters along the transcripts, which may play a role in modulating translation. Consistent with these results, proteins subject to enhanced ribosome pausing in yeast lacking mcm5U and mcm5s2U are more likely to be down-regulated and contain a larger number of AGA/GAA clusters. Together, these results suggest that Trm9-catalyzed tRNA modifications play a significant role in regulating protein expression within the cell.
Author Summary
Here we present evidence for a more complicated role for transfer RNAs (tRNAs) than as mere adapters that link the genetic code in messenger RNA (mRNA) to the amino acid sequence of a protein during translation. tRNAs have long been known to be modified with dozens of different chemical structures other than the 4 canonical ribonucleosides, though the role of these modifications in controlling translation is poorly understood. By quantifying the expression of thousands of proteins in the yeast S. cerevisiae, we identified a mechanistic link between modified ribonucleosides located at the wobble position of two tRNAs, tRNAArg(UCU) and tRNAGlu(UUC), and the translation of proteins derived from genes enriched with codons read by these tRNAs: AGA and GAA. In cells lacking the enzyme that inserts these modifications, tRNA methyltransferase 9 (Trm9), we found a significant reduction in proteins from genes enriched with AGA and GAA codons and with runs of these codons. Also, mRNAs enriched with runs of AGA and GAA codons are subject to stalled translation on ribosomes in yeast lacking mcm5U and mcm5s2U. Together, these results reveal a distinct role for Trm9-catalyzed tRNA modifications in selectively regulating the expression of proteins enriched with AGA and GAA codons.
PMCID: PMC4689569  PMID: 26670883
23.  Transfer RNA Methyltransferases from Thermoplasma acidophilum, a Thermoacidophilic Archaeon 
We investigated tRNA methyltransferase activities in crude cell extracts from the thermoacidophilic archaeon Thermoplasma acidophilum. We analyzed the modified nucleosides in native initiator and elongator tRNAMet, predicted the candidate genes for the tRNA methyltransferases on the basis of the tRNAMet and tRNALeu sequences, and characterized Trm5, Trm1 and Trm56 by purifying recombinant proteins. We found that the Ta0997, Ta0931, and Ta0836 genes of T. acidophilum encode Trm1, Trm56 and Trm5, respectively. Initiator tRNAMet from T. acidophilum strain HO-62 contained G+, m1I, and m22G, which were not reported previously in this tRNA, and the m2G26 and m22G26 were formed by Trm1. In the case of elongator tRNAMet, our analysis showed that the previously unidentified G modification at position 26 was a mixture of m2G and m22G, and that they were also generated by Trm1. Furthermore, purified Trm1 and Trm56 could methylate the precursor of elongator tRNAMet, which has an intron at the canonical position. However, the speed of methyl-transfer by Trm56 to the precursor RNA was considerably slower than that to the mature transcript, which suggests that Trm56 acts mainly on the transcript after the intron has been removed. Moreover, cellular arrangements of the tRNA methyltransferases in T. acidophilum are discussed.
PMCID: PMC4307237  PMID: 25546389
RNA modification; tRNA methyltransferase; archaea
24.  Growth Rate-Dependent Regulation of Transfer Ribonucleic Acid (5-Methyluridine)Methyltransferase in Escherichia coli B/r 
Journal of Bacteriology  1980;141(1):67-73.
Enzymes catalyzing the transfer of methyl groups from S-adenosyl-l-methionine to a precursor transfer ribonucleic acid (tRNA) and forming 5-methyluridine (m5U), 1-methylguanine (m1G), or 5-methylaminomethyl-2-thio-uridine (mam5s2U) are denoted tRNA(m5U)-(EC, tRNA(m1G)-(EC, and tRNA(mam5s2U)methyltransferase. We have studied the regulation of these tRNA biosynthetic enzymes in Escherichia coli under various physiological conditions and in bacterial mutants known to affect the regulation of components of the translational apparatus. Such studies have revealed that tRNA(m5U)-methyltransferase increases with the growth rate in the same fashion as stable RNA, whereas the activity of two other tRNA methyltransferases remains constant in relation to the growth rate. Thus, these tRNA biosynthetic enzymes were not coordinately regulated. Regulation of both tRNA(m5U)methyltransferase and stable RNA was similar during shift-up and shift-down experiments. This enzyme showed a stringent regulation in relA+ strain (T. Ny and G. R. Björk, J. Bacteriol. 130:635–641, 1977) but also in two temperature-sensitive mutants, fusA and fusB, known to influence the accumulation of guanosine 5′-diphosphate 3′-diphosphate and RNA synthesis at nonpermissive temperatures. The tRNA(m5U)methyltransferase showed a gene dose effect when its structural gene, trmA, was carried on a plasmid or on λ transducing phages. Although the regulation of tRNA-(m5U)methyltransferase was surprisingly coupled to that of stable RNA, this enzyme was expressed at a much lower level.
PMCID: PMC293531  PMID: 6153386
25.  The human tRNA(m22G26)dimethyltransferase: functional expression and characterization of a cloned hTRM1 gene 
Nucleic Acids Research  2000;28(18):3445-3451.
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.
PMCID: PMC110725  PMID: 10982862

Results 1-25 (644754)