The structural gene pfTRM1 (GenBank accession no. AF051912), encoding tRNA(guanine-26, N 2- N 2) methyltransferase (EC 126.96.36.199) 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.
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).
Transfer RNA (tRNA) methylation is necessary for the proper biological function of tRNA. The N1 methylation of guanine at Position 9 (m1G9) of tRNA, which is widely identified in eukaryotes and archaea, was found to be catalyzed by the Trm10 family of methyltransferases (MTases). Here, we report the first crystal structures of the tRNA MTase spTrm10 from Schizosaccharomyces pombe in the presence and absence of its methyl donor product S-adenosyl-homocysteine (SAH) and its ortholog scTrm10 from Saccharomyces cerevisiae in complex with SAH. Our crystal structures indicated that the MTase domain (the catalytic domain) of the Trm10 family displays a typical SpoU-TrmD (SPOUT) fold. Furthermore, small angle X-ray scattering analysis reveals that Trm10 behaves as a monomer in solution, whereas other members of the SPOUT superfamily all function as homodimers. We also performed tRNA MTase assays and isothermal titration calorimetry experiments to investigate the catalytic mechanism of Trm10 in vitro. In combination with mutational analysis and electrophoretic mobility shift assays, our results provide insights into the substrate tRNA recognition mechanism of Trm10 family MTases.
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.
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 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
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
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.
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 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.
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.
RlmM (YgdE) catalyzes the S-adenosyl methionine (AdoMet)-dependent 2′O methylation of C2498 in 23S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) of Escherichia coli. Previous experiments have shown that RlmM is active on 23S rRNA from an RlmM knockout strain but not on mature 50S subunits from the same strain. Here, we demonstrate RlmM methyltransferase (MTase) activity on in vitro transcribed 23S rRNA and its domain V. We have solved crystal structures of E. coli RlmM at 1.9 Å resolution and of an RlmM–AdoMet complex at 2.6 Å resolution. RlmM consists of an N-terminal THUMP domain and a C-terminal catalytic Rossmann-like fold MTase domain in a novel arrangement. The catalytic domain of RlmM is closely related to YiiB, TlyA and fibrillarins, with the second K of the catalytic tetrad KDKE shifted by two residues at the C-terminal end of a beta strand compared with most 2′O MTases. The AdoMet-binding site is open and shallow, suggesting that RNA substrate binding may be required to form a conformation needed for catalysis. A continuous surface of conserved positive charge indicates that RlmM uses one side of the two domains and the inter-domain linker to recognize its RNA substrate.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 tRNA:m22G10 methyltransferase of Pyrococus abyssi (PAB1283, a member of COG1041) catalyzes the N2,N2-dimethylation of guanosine at position 10 in tRNA. Boundaries of its THUMP (THioUridine synthases, RNA Methyltransferases and Pseudo-uridine synthases)—containing N-terminal domain [1–152] and C-terminal catalytic domain [157–329] were assessed by trypsin limited proteolysis. An inter-domain flexible region of at least six residues was revealed. The N-terminal domain was then produced as a standalone protein (THUMPα) and further characterized. This autonomously folded unit exhibits very low affinity for tRNA. Using protein fold-recognition (FR) methods, we identified the similarity between THUMPα and a putative RNA-recognition module observed in the crystal structure of another THUMP-containing protein (ThiI thiolase of Bacillus anthracis). A comparative model of THUMPα structure was generated, which fulfills experimentally defined restraints, i.e. chemical modification of surface exposed residues assessed by mass spectrometry, and identification of an intramolecular disulfide bridge. A model of the whole PAB1283 enzyme docked onto its tRNAAsp substrate suggests that the THUMP module specifically takes support on the co-axially stacked helices of T-arm and acceptor stem of tRNA and, together with the catalytic domain, screw-clamp structured tRNA. We propose that this mode of interactions may be common to other THUMP-containing enzymes that specifically modify nucleotides in the 3D-core of tRNA.
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.
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.
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.
The methyltransferase enzyme (MTase), which catalyzes the transfer of a methyl group from S-adenosyl-methionine (AdoMet) to viral RNA, and generates S-adenosyl-homocysteine (AdoHcy) as a by-product, is essential for the life cycle of many significant human pathogen flaviviruses. Here we investigated inhibition of the flavivirus MTase by several AdoHcy-derivatives. Unexpectedly we found that AdoHcy itself barely inhibits the flavivirus MTase activities, even at high concentrations. AdoHcy was also shown to not inhibit virus growth in cell-culture. Binding studies confirmed that AdoHcy has a much lower binding affinity for the MTase than either the AdoMet co-factor, or the natural AdoMet analog inhibitor sinefungin (SIN). While AdoMet is a positively charged molecule, SIN is similar to AdoHcy in being uncharged, and only has an additional amine group that can make extra electrostatic contacts with the MTase. Molecular Mechanics Poisson-Boltzmann Sovation Area analysis on AdoHcy and SIN binding to the MTase suggests that the stronger binding of SIN may not be directly due to interactions of this amine group, but due to distributed differences in SIN binding resulting from its presence. The results suggest that better MTase inhibitors could be designed by using SIN as a scaffold rather than AdoHcy.
N2-Monomethylguanosine-10 (m2G10) and N2,N2-dimethylguanosine-26 (m22G26) are the only two guanosine modifications that have been detected in tRNA from nearly all archaea and eukaryotes but not in bacteria. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, formation of m22G26 is catalyzed by Trm1p, and we report here the identification of the enzymatic activity that catalyzes the formation of m2G10 in yeast tRNA. It is composed of at least two subunits that are associated in vivo: Trm11p (Yol124c), which is the catalytic subunit, and Trm112p (Ynr046w), a putative zinc-binding protein. While deletion of TRM11 has no detectable phenotype under laboratory conditions, deletion of TRM112 leads to a severe growth defect, suggesting that it has additional functions in the cell. Indeed, Trm112p is associated with at least four proteins: two tRNA methyltransferases (Trm9p and Trm11p), one putative protein methyltransferase (Mtc6p/Ydr140w), and one protein with a Rossmann fold dehydrogenase domain (Lys9p/Ynr050c). In addition, TRM11 interacts genetically with TRM1, thus suggesting that the absence of m2G10 and m22G26 affects tRNA metabolism or functioning.