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.
The structural gene pfTRM1 (GenBank accession no. AF051912), encoding tRNA(guanine-26, N 2- N 2) methyltransferase (EC 188.8.131.52) 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.
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.
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.
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
Three structures of a putative RNA 5-methyluridine methyltransferase from T. thermophilus, including its complex with S-adenosyl-l-homocysteine, are presented. The structures reveal the mode of cofactor binding, architecture of the putative active site, and the presence of a deep cleft adjacent to the active site that may bind RNA.
The Thermus thermophilus hypothetical protein TTHA1280 belongs to a family of predicted S-adenosyl-l-methionine (AdoMet) dependent RNA methyltransferases (MTases) present in many bacterial and archaeal species. Inspection of amino-acid sequence motifs common to class I Rossmann-fold-like MTases suggested a specific role as an RNA 5-methyluridine MTase. Selenomethionine (SeMet) labelled and native versions of the protein were expressed, purified and crystallized. Two crystal forms of the SeMet-labelled apoprotein were obtained: SeMet-ApoI and SeMet-ApoII. Cocrystallization of the native protein with S-adenosyl-l-homocysteine (AdoHcy) yielded a third crystal form, Native-AdoHcy. The SeMet-ApoI structure was solved by the multiple anomalous dispersion method and refined at 2.55 Å resolution. The SeMet-ApoII and Native-AdoHcy structures were solved by molecular replacement and refined at 1.80 and 2.60 Å, respectively. TTHA1280 formed a homodimer in the crystals and in solution. Each subunit folds into a three-domain structure composed of a small N-terminal PUA domain, a central α/β-domain and a C-terminal Rossmann-fold-like MTase domain. The three domains form an overall clamp-like shape, with the putative active site facing a deep cleft. The architecture of the active site is consistent with specific recognition of uridine and catalysis of methyl transfer to the 5-carbon position. The cleft is suitable in size and charge distribution for binding single-stranded RNA.
PUA domain; RNA-modification enzyme; 5-methyluridine methyltransferase; S-adenosyl-l-homocysteine
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
The structure of Bacillus subtilis TrmB (BsTrmB), the tRNA (m7G46) methyltransferase, was determined at a resolution of 2.1 Å. This is the first structure of a member of the TrmB family to be determined by X-ray crystallography. It reveals a unique variant of the Rossmann-fold methyltransferase (RFM) structure, with the N-terminal helix folded on the opposite site of the catalytic domain. The architecture of the active site and a computational docking model of BsTrmB in complex with the methyl group donor S-adenosyl-l-methionine and the tRNA substrate provide an explanation for results from mutagenesis studies of an orthologous enzyme from Escherichia coli (EcTrmB). However, unlike EcTrmB, BsTrmB is shown here to be dimeric both in the crystal and in solution. The dimer interface has a hydrophobic core and buries a potassium ion and five water molecules. The evolutionary analysis of the putative interface residues in the TrmB family suggests that homodimerization may be a specific feature of TrmBs from Bacilli, which may represent an early stage of evolution to an obligatory dimer.
The enzyme tRNA(m1G37) methyl transferase catalyzes the transfer of a methyl group from S-adenosyl methionine (AdoMet) to the N1 position of G37, which is 3′ to the anticodon sequence and whose modification is important for maintaining the reading frame fidelity. While the enzyme in bacteria is highly conserved and is encoded by the trmD gene, recent studies show that the counterpart of this enzyme in archaea and eukarya, encoded by the trm5 gene, is unrelated to trmD both in sequence and in structure. To further test this prediction, we seek to identify residues in the second class of tRNA(m1G37) methyl transferase that are required for catalysis. Such residues should provide mechanistic insights into the distinct structural origins of the two classes. Using the Trm5 enzyme of the archaeon Methanocaldococcus jannaschii (previously MJ0883) as an example, we have created mutants to test many conserved residues for their catalytic potential and substrate-binding capabilities with respect to both AdoMet and tRNA. We identified that the proline at position 267 (P267) is a critical residue for catalysis, because substitution of this residue severely decreases kcat of the methylation reaction in steady-state kinetic analysis, and kchem in single turnover kinetic analysis. However, substitution of P267 has milder effect on Km and little effect on Kd of either substrate. Because P267 has no functional side chain that can directly participate in the chemistry of methyl transfer, we suggest that its role in catalysis is to stabilize conformations of enzyme and substrates for proper alignment of reactive groups at the enzyme active site. Sequence analysis shows that P267 is embedded in a peptide motif that is conserved among the Trm5 family, but absent from the TrmD family, supporting the notion that the two families are descendants of unrelated protein structures.
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 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.
Formation of 5-methyluridine (ribothymidine) at position 54 of the T-psi loop of tRNA is catalyzed by site-specific tRNA methyltransferases (tRNA:m5U-54 MTase). In all Eukarya and many Gram-negative Bacteria, the methyl donor for this reaction is S-adenosyl-l-methionine (S-AdoMet), while in several Gram-positive Bacteria, the source of carbon is N5, N10-methylenetetrahydrofolate (CH2H4folate). We have identified the gene for Bacillus subtilis tRNA:m5U-54 MTase. The encoded recombinant protein contains tightly bound flavin and is active in Escherichia coli mutant lacking m5U-54 in tRNAs and in vitro using T7 tRNA transcript as substrate. This gene is currently annotated gid in Genome Data Banks and it is here renamed trmFO. TrmFO (Gid) orthologs have also been identified in many other bacterial genomes and comparison of their amino acid sequences reveals that they are phylogenetically distinct from either ThyA or ThyX class of thymidylate synthases, which catalyze folate-dependent formation of deoxyribothymine monophosphate, the universal DNA precursor.
TrmD and Trm5 are respectively the bacterial and eukarya/archaea methyl transferases that catalyze transfer of the methyl group from S-adenosyl methionine (AdoMet) to the N1 position of G37 in tRNA to synthesize m1G37-tRNA. The m1G37 modification prevents tRNA frameshifts on the ribosome by assuring correct codon-anticodon pairings, and thus is essential for the fidelity of protein synthesis. Although TrmD and Trm5 are derived from unrelated AdoMet families and recognize the cofactor using distinct motifs, the question of whether they select G37 on tRNA by the same, or different, mechanism has not been answered. Here we address this question by kinetic analysis of tRNA truncation mutants that lack domains typically present in the canonical L shaped structure, and by evaluation of the site of modification on tRNA variants with an expanded or contracted anticodon loop. With both experimental approaches, we show that TrmD and Trm5 exhibit separate and distinct mode of tRNA recognition, suggesting that they evolved by independent and non-overlapping pathways from their unrelated AdoMet families. Our results also shed new light onto the significance of the m1G37 modification in the controversial quadruplet-pairing model of tRNA frameshift suppressors.
tRNA(m1G37) methyl transferase; anticodon stem-loop; frameshift suppressor tRNA; m1G37
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.
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.
The crystal structure of Aquifex aeolicus TrmH, a member of the a/b-knot superfamily responsible for O methylation of G18 of tRNAs, was determined to 1.85 Å resolution using the molecular-replacement method.
Biological RNAs contain a variety of post-transcriptional modifications that facilitate their efficient function in the cellular environment. One of the two most common forms of modification is methylation of the 2′-hydroxyl group of the ribose sugar, which is performed by a number of S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) dependent methyltransferases. In bacteria, many of these modifications in tRNA and rRNA are carried out by the α/β-knot superfamily of enzymes, whose SAM-binding pocket is created by a characteristic deep trefoil knot. TrmH, an enzyme found throughout all three kingdoms of life, modifies the universally conserved guanosine 18 position of tRNA. The crystal structure of TrmH from the thermophilic bacterium Aquifex aeolicus has been determined at 1.85 Å resolution using data collected from a synchrotron-radiation source. The protein reveals a fold typical of members of the SpoU clan of proteins, a subfamily of the α/β-knot superfamily, with α-helical extensions at the N- and C-termini that are likely to be involved in tRNA binding.
TrmH; RNA methylation; topological knot
Three types of methyltransferases (MTases) generate 5-methylpyrimidine in nucleic acids, forming m5U in RNA, m5C in RNA and m5C in DNA. The DNA:m5C MTases have been extensively studied by crystallographic, biophysical, biochemical and computational methods. On the other hand, the sequence–structure–function relationships of RNA:m5C MTases remain obscure, as do the potential evolutionary relationships between the three types of 5-methylpyrimidine-generating enzymes. Sequence analyses and homology modeling of the yeast tRNA:m5C MTase Trm4p (also called Ncl1p) provided a structural and evolutionary platform for identification of catalytic residues and modeling of the architecture of the RNA:m5C MTase active site. The analysis led to the identification of two invariant residues that are important for Trm4p activity in addition to the conserved Cys residues in motif IV and motif VI that were previously found to be critical. The newly identified residues include a Lys residue in motif I and an Asp in motif IV. A conserved Gln found in motif X was found to be dispensable for MTase activity. Locations of essential residues in the model of Trm4p are in very good agreement with the X-ray structure of an RNA:m5C MTase homolog PH1374. Theoretical and experimental analyses revealed that RNA:m5C MTases share a number of features with either RNA:m5U MTases or DNA:m5C MTases, which suggested a tentative phylogenetic model of relationships between these three classes of 5-methylpyrimidine MTases. We infer that RNA:m5C MTases evolved from RNA:m5U MTases by acquiring an additional Cys residue in motif IV, which was adapted to function as the nucleophilic catalyst only later in DNA:m5C MTases, accompanied by loss of the original Cys from motif VI, transfer of a conserved carboxylate from motif IV to motif VI and sequence permutation.
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.
SPOUT methyltransferases (MTases) are a large class of S-adenosyl-L-methionine-dependent enzymes that exhibit an unusual alpha/beta fold with a very deep topological knot. In 2001, when no crystal structures were available for any of these proteins, Anantharaman, Koonin, and Aravind identified homology between SpoU and TrmD MTases and defined the SPOUT superfamily. Since then, multiple crystal structures of knotted MTases have been solved and numerous new homologous sequences appeared in the databases. However, no comprehensive comparative analysis of these proteins has been carried out to classify them based on structural and evolutionary criteria and to guide functional predictions.
We carried out extensive searches of databases of protein structures and sequences to collect all members of previously identified SPOUT MTases, and to identify previously unknown homologs. Based on sequence clustering, characterization of domain architecture, structure predictions and sequence/structure comparisons, we re-defined families within the SPOUT superfamily and predicted putative active sites and biochemical functions for the so far uncharacterized members. We have also delineated the common core of SPOUT MTases and inferred a multiple sequence alignment for the conserved knot region, from which we calculated the phylogenetic tree of the superfamily. We have also studied phylogenetic distribution of different families, and used this information to infer the evolutionary history of the SPOUT superfamily.
We present the first phylogenetic tree of the SPOUT superfamily since it was defined, together with a new scheme for its classification, and discussion about conservation of sequence and structure in different families, and their functional implications. We identified four protein families as new members of the SPOUT superfamily. Three of these families are functionally uncharacterized (COG1772, COG1901, and COG4080), and one (COG1756 represented by Nep1p) has been already implicated in RNA metabolism, but its biochemical function has been unknown. Based on the inference of orthologous and paralogous relationships between all SPOUT families we propose that the Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA) of all extant organisms contained at least three SPOUT members, ancestors of contemporary RNA MTases that carry out m1G, m3U, and 2'O-ribose methylation, respectively. In this work we also speculate on the origin of the knot and propose possible 'unknotted' ancestors. The results of our analysis provide a comprehensive 'roadmap' for experimental characterization of SPOUT MTases and interpretation of functional studies in the light of sequence-structure relationships.
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).
Methylation is a common modification encountered in DNA, RNA and proteins. It plays a central role in gene expression, protein function and mRNA translation. Prokaryotic and eukaryotic class I translation termination factors are methylated on the glutamine of the essential and universally conserved GGQ motif, in line with an important cellular role. In eukaryotes, this modification is performed by the Mtq2-Trm112 holoenzyme. Trm112 activates not only the Mtq2 catalytic subunit but also two other tRNA methyltransferases (Trm9 and Trm11). To understand the molecular mechanisms underlying methyltransferase activation by Trm112, we have determined the 3D structure of the Mtq2-Trm112 complex and mapped its active site. Using site-directed mutagenesis and in vivo functional experiments, we show that this structure can also serve as a model for the Trm9-Trm112 complex, supporting our hypothesis that Trm112 uses a common strategy to activate these three methyltransferases.
We identified a human orthologue of tRNA:m5C methyltransferase from Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which has been previously shown to catalyse the specific modification of C34 in the intron-containing yeast pre-tRNA(CAA)Leu. Using transcripts of intron-less and intron-containing human tRNA(CAA)Leu genes as substrates, we have shown that m5C34 is introduced only in the intron-containing tRNA precursors when the substrates were incubated in the HeLa extract. m5C34 formation depends on the nucleotide sequence surrounding the wobble cytidine and on the structure of the prolongated anticodon stem. Expression of the human Trm4 (hTrm4) cDNA in yeast partially complements the lack of the endogenous Trm4p enzyme. The yeast extract prepared from the strain deprived of the endogenous TRM4 gene and transformed with hTrm4 cDNA exhibits the same activity and substrate specificity toward human pre-tRNALeu transcripts as the HeLa extract. The hTrm4 MTase has a much narrower specificity against the yeast substrates than its yeast orthologue: human enzyme is not able to form m5C at positions 48 and 49 of human and yeast tRNA precursors. To our knowledge, this is the first report showing intron-dependent methylation of human pre-tRNA(CAA)Leu and identification of human gene encoding tRNA methylase responsible for this reaction.
1-Methylguanosine (m1G) is present next to the 3' end of the anticodon (position 37) in tRNA(1,2,3,Leu), tRNA(1,2,3,Pro), and tRNA(3Arg). A mutant of Salmonella typhimurium lacks m1G in these seven tRNAs when grown at or above 37 degrees C, as a result of a mutation (trmD3) in the structural gene (trmD) for the tRNA(m1G37)methyltransferase. The m1G deficiency induced 24 and 26% reductions in the growth rate and polypeptide chain elongation rate, respectively, in morpholinepropanesulfonic acid (MOPS)-glucose minimal medium at 37 degrees C. The expression of the leuABCD operon is controlled by the rate with which tRNA(2Leu) and tRNA(3Leu) read four leucine codons in the leu-leader mRNA. Lack of m1G in these tRNAs did not influence the expression of this operon, suggesting that m1G did not influence the efficiency of tRNA(2,3Leu). Since the average step time of the m1G-deficient tRNAs was increased 3.3-fold, the results suggest that the impact of m1G in decoding cognate codons may be tRNA dependent. The trmD3 mutation rendered the cell more resistant or sensitive to several amino acid analogs. 3-Nitro-L-tyrosine (NT), to which the trmD3 mutant is sensitive, was shown to be transported by the tryptophan-specific permease, and mutations in this gene (mtr) render the cell resistant to NT. Since the trmD3 mutation did not affect the activity of the permease, some internal metabolic step(s), but not the uptake of the analog per se, is affected. We suggest that the trmD3-mediated NT sensitivity is by an abnormal translation of some mRNA(s) whose product(s) is involved in the metabolic reactions affected by the analog. Our results also suggest that tRNA modification may be a regulatory device for gene expression.
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.
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.