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.
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.
AdoMet; tRNA modification enzyme; Methylation; X-ray crystal structure; Structural genomics
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Trm5; TrmD; burst kinetics; tRNA(m1G37); half-of-the-site reactivity
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
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 184.108.40.206), tRNA(m1G)-(EC 220.127.116.11), 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.
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.
RNA modification; tRNA methyltransferase; archaea
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.
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.
Nonessential tRNA modifications by methyltransferases are evolutionarily conserved and have been reported to stabilize mature tRNA molecules and prevent rapid tRNA decay (RTD). The tRNA modifying enzymes, NSUN2 and METTL1, are mammalian orthologs of yeast Trm4 and Trm8, which are required for protecting tRNA against RTD. A simultaneous overexpression of NSUN2 and METTL1 is widely observed among human cancers suggesting that targeting of both proteins provides a novel powerful strategy for cancer chemotherapy. Here, we show that combined knockdown of NSUN2 and METTL1 in HeLa cells drastically potentiate sensitivity of cells to 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) whereas heat stress of cells revealed no effects. Since NSUN2 and METTL1 are phosphorylated by Aurora-B and Akt, respectively, and their tRNA modifying activities are suppressed by phosphorylation, overexpression of constitutively dephosphorylated forms of both methyltransferases is able to suppress 5-FU sensitivity. Thus, NSUN2 and METTL1 are implicated in 5-FU sensitivity in HeLa cells. Interfering with methylation of tRNAs might provide a promising rationale to improve 5-FU chemotherapy of cancer.
The cellular mechanisms for sensing and responding to stress on nucleic acid metabolism or to genotoxic stress are the fundamental and ancient evolutionary biological activities with conserved and diverse biological functions. In yeast, hypomodified mature tRNA species are rapidly decayed under heat stress by the RTD pathway. Yet, it has been shown that tRNA-specific methyltransferases Trm4 and Trm8 protect from tRNA decay. 5-FU, a pyrimidine analog used for cancer treatment, is generally known to act as a thymidylate synthase inhibitor although other ways for the mechanisms of action are suggested. We studied NSUN2 and METTL1, the human orthologs of Trm4 and Trm8 in yeast, and demonstrated that these RTD-related tRNA modifying enzymes are involved in 5-FU sensitivity in cervical cancer HeLa cells. We conclude that the evolutionarily conserved regulation of tRNA modifications is a potential mechanism of chemotherapy resistance in cancer cells.
The structural gene pfTRM1 (GenBank accession no. AF051912), encoding tRNA(guanine-26, N 2- N 2) methyltransferase (EC 18.104.22.168) of the strictly anaerobic hyperthermophilic archaeon Pyrococcus furiosus, has been identified by sequence similarity to the TRM1 gene of Saccharomyces cerevisiae (YDR120c). The pfTRM1 gene in a 3.0 kb restriction DNA fragment of P.furiosus genomic DNA has been cloned by library screening using a PCR probe to the 5'-part of the corresponding ORF. Sequence analysis revealed an entire ORF of 1143 bp encoding a polypeptide of 381 residues (calculated molecular mass 43.3 kDa). The deduced amino acid sequence of this newly identified gene shares significant similarity with the TRM1- like genes of three other archaea (Methanococcus jannaschii, Methanobacterium thermoautotrophicum and Archaeoglobus fulgidus), one eukaryon (Caenorhabditis elegans) and one hyperthermophilic eubacterium (Aquifex aeolicus). Two short consensus motifs for S-adenosyl-l-methionine binding are detected in the sequence of pfTrm1p. Cloning of the P.furiosus TRM1 gene in an Escherichia coli expression vector allowed expression of the recombinant protein (pfTrm1p) with an apparent molecular mass of 42 kDa. A protein extract from the transformed E.coli cells shows enzymatic activity for the quantitative formation of N 2, N 2-dimethylguanosine at position 26 in a transcript of yeast tRNAPhe used as substrate. The recombinant enzyme was also shown to modify bulk E.coli tRNAs in vivo.
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.