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1.  Conserved Pyridoxal Protein That Regulates Ile and Val Metabolism 
Journal of Bacteriology  2013;195(24):5439-5449.
Escherichia coli YggS is a member of the highly conserved uncharacterized protein family that binds pyridoxal 5′-phosphate (PLP). To assist with the functional assignment of the YggS family, in vivo and in vitro analyses were performed using a yggS-deficient E. coli strain (ΔyggS) and a purified form of YggS, respectively. In the stationary phase, the ΔyggS strain exhibited a completely different intracellular pool of amino acids and produced a significant amount of l-Val in the culture medium. The log-phase ΔyggS strain accumulated 2-ketobutyrate, its aminated compound 2-aminobutyrate, and, to a lesser extent, l-Val. It also exhibited a 1.3- to 2.6-fold increase in the levels of Ile and Val metabolic enzymes. The fact that similar phenotypes were induced in wild-type E. coli by the exogenous addition of 2-ketobutyrate and 2-aminobutyrate indicates that the 2 compounds contribute to the ΔyggS phenotypes. We showed that the initial cause of the keto acid imbalance was the reduced availability of coenzyme A (CoA); supplementation with pantothenate, which is a CoA precursor, fully reversed phenotypes conferred by the yggS mutation. The plasmid-borne expression of YggS and orthologs from Bacillus subtilis, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and humans fully rescued the ΔyggS phenotypes. Expression of a mutant YggS lacking PLP-binding ability, however, did not reverse the ΔyggS phenotypes. These results demonstrate for the first time that YggS controls Ile and Val metabolism by modulating 2-ketobutyrate and CoA availability. Its function depends on PLP, and it is highly conserved in a wide range species, from bacteria to humans.
PMCID: PMC3889608  PMID: 24097949
2.  SoxRS-Regulated Expression and Genetic Analysis of the yggX Gene of Escherichia coli 
Journal of Bacteriology  2003;185(22):6624-6632.
Genomic studies with bacteria have identified redox-responsive genes without known roles in counteracting oxidative damage. Previous transcriptional profiling showed that expression of one such gene, yggX, was activated by superoxide stress in Escherichia coli. Here we show that this activation could be mimicked by artificial expression of the regulatory protein SoxS. Northern analysis confirmed the transcriptional activation of yggX by oxidative stress or SoxS expression but not in response to the related MarA or Rob proteins. Northern analysis showed that mltC, which codes for a peptidoglycan hydrolase and is positioned immediately downstream of yggX, was also regulated by oxidative stress or ectopic expression of SoxS. Purified SoxS protein bound to the predicted yggX promoter region, between positions 223 and 163 upstream from the yggX translational start site. Within this region, a 20-bp sequence was found to be necessary for oxidative stress-mediated activation of yggX transcription. A yggX deletion strain was hypersensitive to the redox-cycling agent paraquat, and a plasmid expressing YggX complemented the sensitivity of the deletion strain. Under exposure to paraquat, the yggX deletion strain showed a deficiency in aconitase activity compared to the isogenic wild-type strain, while expression of YggX from a multicopy plasmid increased the aconitase levels above those of the wild-type strain. These results demonstrate the direct regulation of the yggX gene by the redox-sensing SoxRS system and provide further evidence for the involvement of yggX in protection of iron-sulfur proteins against oxidative damage.
PMCID: PMC262090  PMID: 14594836
3.  Klebsiella pneumoniae yggG Gene Product: A Zinc-Dependent Metalloprotease 
Klebsiella pneumoniae causes neonatal sepsis and nosocomial infections. One of the strains, K. pneumoniae MGH 78578, shows high level of resistance to multiple microbial agents. In this study, domain family, amino acid sequence and topology analyses were performed on one of its hypothetical protein, YggG (KPN_03358). Structural bioinformatics approaches were used to predict the structure and functionality of YggG protein. The open reading frame (ORF) of yggG, which was a putative metalloprotease gene, was also cloned, expressed and characterized. The ORF was PCR amplified from K. pneumoniae MGH 78578 genomic DNA and cloned into a pET14-b vector for heterologous expression in Escherichia coli. The purified YggG protein was subsequently assayed for casein hydrolysis under different conditions. This protein was classified as peptidase M48 family and subclan gluzincin. It was predicted to contain one transmembrane domain by TMpred. Optimal protein expression was achieved by induction with 0.6 mM isopropyl thiogalactoside (IPTG) at 25 °C for six hours. YggG was purified as soluble protein and confirmed to be proteolytically active under the presence of 1.25 mM zinc acetate and showed optimum activity at 37 °C and pH 7.4. We confirmed for the first time that the yggG gene product is a zinc-dependent metalloprotease.
PMCID: PMC3155361  PMID: 21845088
Klebsiella pneumoniae MGH 78578; yggG gene; KPN_03358; metalloprotease; HEXXH motif
4.  Evidence for an Arginine Exporter Encoded by yggA (argO) That Is Regulated by the LysR-Type Transcriptional Regulator ArgP in Escherichia coli 
Journal of Bacteriology  2004;186(11):3539-3546.
The anonymous open reading frame yggA of Escherichia coli was identified in this study as a gene that is under the transcriptional control of argP (previously called iciA), which encodes a LysR-type transcriptional regulator protein. Strains with null mutations in either yggA or argP were supersensitive to the arginine analog canavanine, and yggA-lac expression in vivo exhibited argP+-dependent induction by arginine. Lysine supplementation phenocopied the argP null mutation in that it virtually abolished yggA expression, even in the argP+ strain. The dipeptides arginylalanine and lysylalanine behaved much like arginine and lysine, respectively, to induce and to turn off yggA transcription. Dominant missense mutations in argP (argPd) that conferred canavanine resistance and rendered yggA-lac expression constitutive were obtained. The protein deduced to be encoded by yggA shares similarity with a basic amino acid exporter (LysE) of Corynebacterium glutamicum, and we obtained evidence for increased arginine efflux from E. coli strains with either the argPd mutation or multicopy yggA+. The null yggA mutation abolished the increased arginine efflux from the argPd strain. Our results suggest that yggA encodes an ArgP-regulated arginine exporter, and we have accordingly renamed it argO (for “arginine outward transport”). We propose that the physiological function of argO may be either to prevent the accumulation to toxic levels of canavanine (which is a plant-derived antimetabolite) or arginine or to maintain an appropriate balance between the intracellular lysine and arginine concentrations.
PMCID: PMC415761  PMID: 15150242
5.  A Sequence Motif within Trypanosome Precursor tRNAs Influences Abundance and Mitochondrial Localization 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2003;23(24):9061-9072.
Trypanosoma brucei lacks mitochondrial genes encoding tRNAs and must import nuclearly encoded tRNAs from the cytosol. The mechanism and specificity of this process remain unclear. We have identified a unique sequence motif, YGG(C/A)RRC, upstream of the genes encoding mitochondrially localized tRNAs in T. brucei. Both in vitro import studies and in vivo transfection studies indicate that deletion of the YGG(C/A)RRC sequence alters mitochondrial localization of tRNALeu, and in vivo studies also show a decrease in the cellular abundance of tRNALeu. These studies provide direct evidence for cis-acting RNA motifs within precursor tRNAs that facilitate the selection of tRNAs for mitochondrial import in trypanosomes. Furthermore, we found that mutations to the YGG(C/A)RRC sequence also altered the intracellular distribution of other endogenous tRNAs, suggesting a general role for this sequence in tRNA trafficking in trypanosomes.
PMCID: PMC309662  PMID: 14645518
6.  The tRNA recognition mechanism of the minimalist SPOUT methyltransferase, TrmL 
Nucleic Acids Research  2013;41(16):7828-7842.
Unlike other transfer RNAs (tRNA)-modifying enzymes from the SPOUT methyltransferase superfamily, the tRNA (Um34/Cm34) methyltransferase TrmL lacks the usual extension domain for tRNA binding and consists only of a SPOUT domain. Both the catalytic and tRNA recognition mechanisms of this enzyme remain elusive. By using tRNAs purified from an Escherichia coli strain with the TrmL gene deleted, we found that TrmL can independently catalyze the methyl transfer from S-adenosyl-L-methionine to and isoacceptors without the involvement of other tRNA-binding proteins. We have solved the crystal structures of TrmL in apo form and in complex with S-adenosyl-homocysteine and identified the cofactor binding site and a possible active site. Methyltransferase activity and tRNA-binding affinity of TrmL mutants were measured to identify residues important for tRNA binding of TrmL. Our results suggest that TrmL functions as a homodimer by using the conserved C-terminal half of the SPOUT domain for catalysis, whereas residues from the less-conserved N-terminal half of the other subunit participate in tRNA recognition.
PMCID: PMC3763551  PMID: 23804755
7.  Growth Rate-Dependent Regulation of Transfer Ribonucleic Acid (5-Methyluridine)Methyltransferase in Escherichia coli B/r 
Journal of Bacteriology  1980;141(1):67-73.
Enzymes catalyzing the transfer of methyl groups from S-adenosyl-l-methionine to a precursor transfer ribonucleic acid (tRNA) and forming 5-methyluridine (m5U), 1-methylguanine (m1G), or 5-methylaminomethyl-2-thio-uridine (mam5s2U) are denoted tRNA(m5U)-(EC, tRNA(m1G)-(EC, and tRNA(mam5s2U)methyltransferase. We have studied the regulation of these tRNA biosynthetic enzymes in Escherichia coli under various physiological conditions and in bacterial mutants known to affect the regulation of components of the translational apparatus. Such studies have revealed that tRNA(m5U)-methyltransferase increases with the growth rate in the same fashion as stable RNA, whereas the activity of two other tRNA methyltransferases remains constant in relation to the growth rate. Thus, these tRNA biosynthetic enzymes were not coordinately regulated. Regulation of both tRNA(m5U)methyltransferase and stable RNA was similar during shift-up and shift-down experiments. This enzyme showed a stringent regulation in relA+ strain (T. Ny and G. R. Björk, J. Bacteriol. 130:635–641, 1977) but also in two temperature-sensitive mutants, fusA and fusB, known to influence the accumulation of guanosine 5′-diphosphate 3′-diphosphate and RNA synthesis at nonpermissive temperatures. The tRNA(m5U)methyltransferase showed a gene dose effect when its structural gene, trmA, was carried on a plasmid or on λ transducing phages. Although the regulation of tRNA-(m5U)methyltransferase was surprisingly coupled to that of stable RNA, this enzyme was expressed at a much lower level.
PMCID: PMC293531  PMID: 6153386
8.  The yfhQ gene of Escherichia coli encodes a tRNA:Cm32/Um32 methyltransferase 
Naturally occurring tRNAs contain numerous modified nucleosides. They are formed by enzymatic modification of the primary transcripts during the complex RNA maturation process. In model organisms Escherichia coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae most enzymes involved in this process have been identified. Interestingly, it was found that tRNA methylation, one of the most common modifications, can be introduced by S-adenosyl-L-methionine (AdoMet)-dependent methyltransferases (MTases) that belong to two structurally and phylogenetically unrelated protein superfamilies: RFM and SPOUT.
As a part of a large-scale project aiming at characterization of a complete set of RNA modification enzymes of model organisms, we have studied the Escherichia coli proteins YibK, LasT, YfhQ, and YbeA for their ability to introduce the last unassigned methylations of ribose at positions 32 and 34 of the tRNA anticodon loop. We found that YfhQ catalyzes the AdoMet-dependent formation of Cm32 or Um32 in tRNASer1 and tRNAGln2 and that an E. coli strain with a disrupted yfhQ gene lacks the tRNA:Cm32/Um32 methyltransferase activity. Thus, we propose to rename YfhQ as TrMet(Xm32) according to the recently proposed, uniform nomenclature for all RNA modification enzymes, or TrmJ, according to the traditional nomenclature for bacterial tRNA MTases.
Our results reveal that methylation at position 32 is carried out by completely unrelated TrMet(Xm32) enzymes in eukaryota and prokaryota (RFM superfamily member Trm7 and SPOUT superfamily member TrmJ, respectively), mirroring the scenario observed in the case of the m1G37 modification (introduced by the RFM member Trm5 in eukaryota and archaea, and by the SPOUT member TrmD in bacteria).
PMCID: PMC1569432  PMID: 16848900
9.  Distinct Roles of the Salmonella enterica Serovar Typhimurium CyaY and YggX Proteins in the Biosynthesis and Repair of Iron-Sulfur Clusters 
Infection and Immunity  2014;82(4):1390-1401.
Labile [4Fe-4S]2+ clusters found at the active sites of many dehydratases are susceptible to damage by univalent oxidants that convert the clusters to an inactive [3Fe-4S]1+ form. Bacteria repair damaged clusters in a process that does not require de novo protein synthesis or the Isc and Suf cluster assembly pathways. The current study investigates the participation of the bacterial frataxin ortholog CyaY and the YggX protein, which are proposed to play roles in iron trafficking and iron-sulfur cluster repair. Previous reports found that individual mutations in cyaY or yggX were not associated with phenotypic changes in Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium, suggesting that CyaY and YggX might have functionally redundant roles. However, we have found that individual mutations in cyaY or yggX confer enhanced susceptibility to hydrogen peroxide in Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium. In addition, inactivation of the stm3944 open reading frame, which is located immediately upstream of cyaY and which encodes a putative inner membrane protein, dramatically enhances the hydrogen peroxide sensitivity of a cyaY mutant. Overexpression of STM3944 reduces the elevated intracellular free iron levels observed in an S. Typhimurium fur mutant and also reduces the total cellular iron content under conditions of iron overload, suggesting that the stm3944-encoded protein may mediate iron efflux. Mutations in cyaY and yggX have different effects on the activities of the iron-sulfur cluster-containing aconitase, serine deaminase, and NADH dehydrogenase I enzymes of S. Typhimurium under basal conditions or following recovery from oxidative stress. In addition, cyaY and yggX mutations have additive effects on 6-phosphogluconate dehydratase-dependent growth during nitrosative stress, and a cyaY mutation reduces Salmonella virulence in mice. Collectively, these results indicate that CyaY and YggX play distinct supporting roles in iron-sulfur cluster biosynthesis and the repair of labile clusters damaged by univalent oxidants. Salmonella experiences oxidative and nitrosative stress within host phagocytes, and CyaY-dependent maintenance of labile iron-sulfur clusters appears to be important for Salmonella virulence.
PMCID: PMC3993414  PMID: 24421039
10.  Mycobacterium tuberculosis Rv2118c codes for a single-component homotetrameric m1A58 tRNA methyltransferase 
Nucleic Acids Research  2004;32(3):1018-1027.
Modified nucleosides in tRNAs play important roles in tRNA structure, biosynthesis and function, and serve as crucial determinants of bacterial growth and virulence. In the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, mutants defective in N1-methylation of a highly conserved adenosine (A58) in the TΨC loop of initiator tRNA are non-viable. The yeast m1A58 methyltransferase is a heterotetramer consisting of two different polypeptide chains, Gcd14p and Gcd10p. Interestingly, while m1A58 is not found in most eubacteria, the mycobacterial tRNAs have m1A58. Here, we report on the cloning, overexpression, purification and biochemical characterization of the Rv2118c gene-encoded protein (Rv2118p) from Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which is homologous to yeast Gcd14p. We show that Rv2118c codes for a protein of ∼31 kDa. Activity assays, modified base analysis and primer extension experiments using reverse transcriptase reveal that Rv2118p is an S-adenosyl-l-methionine-dependent methyltransferase which carries out m1A58 modification in tRNAs, both in vivo and in vitro. Remarkably, when expressed in Escherichia coli, the enzyme methylates the endogenous E.coli initiator tRNA essentially quantitatively. Furthermore, unlike its eukaryotic counterpart, which is a heterotetramer, the mycobacterial enzyme is a homotetramer. Also, the presence of rT modification at position 54, which was found to inhibit the Tetrahymena pyriformis enzyme, does not affect the activity of Rv2118p. Thus, the mycobacterial m1A58 tRNA methyltransferase possesses distinct biochemical properties. We discuss aspects of the biological relevance of Rv2118p in M.tuberculosis, and its potential use as a drug target to control the growth of mycobacteria.
PMCID: PMC373377  PMID: 14960715
11.  Crystallization and preliminary crystallographic analysis of tRNA (m7G46) methyltransferase from Escherichia coli  
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.
PMCID: PMC2494960  PMID: 18678947
tRNA (m7G46) methyltransferase; Rossmann-fold methyltransferase family
12.  Composition and Characterization of tRNA from Methanococcus vannielii. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1978;133(1):240-250.
Purified bulk tRNA from Methanococcus vanielii (carbon source, formate) showed variation in the modified nucleoside pattern reported for Escherichia coli as analyzed by both ion-exchange and thin-layer chromatography. Ribothymidine and 7-methylguanosine were absent; 1-methyladenosine, 1-methylguanosine, N2-methylguanosine, N2,N2-dimethylguanosine, thiolated nucleosides, pseudouridine, dihydrouridine, and O2'-methylcytidine were quantitated. In vitro methylation by M. Vannielii extracts with S-adenosylmethionine and undermethylated E. coli tRNA revealed active tRNA methyltransferases for formation of methylated residues found in native M. vannielii tRNA, but none for the formation of 7-methylguanosine or ribothymidine. The native M. vannielii tRNA became methylated in the 7-methylguanosine position by E. Coli extracts, but ribothymidine was not formed. Both M. vannielii and E. coli tRNA methyltransferases produced unidentified methylated residues in tRNA's lacking or deficient in ribothymidine.
PMCID: PMC222000  PMID: 618840
13.  The crystal structure of Pyrococcus abyssi tRNA (uracil-54, C5)-methyltransferase provides insights into its tRNA specificity 
Nucleic Acids Research  2008;36(15):4929-4940.
The 5-methyluridine is invariably found at position 54 in the TΨC loop of tRNAs of most organisms. In Pyrococcus abyssi, its formation is catalyzed by the S-adenosyl-l-methionine-dependent tRNA (uracil-54, C5)-methyltransferase (PabTrmU54), an enzyme that emerged through an ancient horizontal transfer of an RNA (uracil, C5)-methyltransferase-like gene from bacteria to archaea. The crystal structure of PabTrmU54 in complex with S-adenosyl-l-homocysteine at 1.9 Å resolution shows the protein organized into three domains like Escherichia coli RumA, which catalyzes the same reaction at position 1939 of 23S rRNA. A positively charged groove at the interface between the three domains probably locates part of the tRNA-binding site of PabTrmU54. We show that a mini-tRNA lacking both the D and anticodon stem-loops is recognized by PabTrmU54. These results were used to model yeast tRNAAsp in the PabTrmU54 structure to get further insights into the different RNA specificities of RumA and PabTrmU54. Interestingly, the presence of two flexible loops in the central domain, unique to PabTrmU54, may explain the different substrate selectivities of both enzymes. We also predict that a large TΨC loop conformational change has to occur for the flipping of the target uridine into the PabTrmU54 active site during catalysis.
PMCID: PMC2528175  PMID: 18653523
14.  Identification of a novel gene encoding a flavin-dependent tRNA:m5U methyltransferase in bacteria—evolutionary implications 
Nucleic Acids Research  2005;33(13):3955-3964.
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.
PMCID: PMC1178002  PMID: 16027442
15.  RNA-methyltransferase TrmA is a dual-specific enzyme responsible for C5-methylation of uridine in both tmRNA and tRNA 
RNA Biology  2013;10(4):572-578.
In bacteria, trans-translation rescues stalled ribosomes by the combined action of tmRNA (transfer-mRNA) and its associated protein SmpB. The tmRNA 5′ and 3′ ends fold into a tRNA-like domain (TLD), which shares structural and functional similarities with tRNAs. As in tRNAs, the UUC sequence of the T-arm of the TLD is post-transcriptionally modified to m5UψC. In tRNAs of gram-negative bacteria, formation of m5U is catalyzed by the SAM-dependent methyltransferase TrmA, while formation of m5U at two different positions in rRNA is catalyzed by distinct site-specific methyltransferases RlmC and RlmD. Here, we show that m5U formation in tmRNAs is exclusively due to TrmA and should be considered as a dual-specific enzyme. The evidence comes from the lack of m5U in purified tmRNA or TLD variants recovered from an Escherichia coli mutant strain deleted of the trmA gene. Detection of m5U in RNA was performed by NMR analysis.
PMCID: PMC3710363  PMID: 23603891
methylation; methyltransferase; TrmA; NMR; post-transcriptional modification; t-RNA like domain (TLD); tmRNA
16.  The Methyl Group of the N6-Methyl-N6-Threonylcarbamoyladenosine in tRNA of Escherichia coli Modestly Improves the Efficiency of the tRNA 
Journal of Bacteriology  1998;180(7):1808-1813.
tRNA species that read codons starting with adenosine (A) contain N6-threonylcarbamoyladenosine (t6A) derivatives adjacent to and 3′ of the anticodons from all organisms. In Escherichia coli there are 12 such tRNA species of which two (tRNAGGUThr1 and tRNAGGUThr3) have the t6A derivative N6-methyl-N6-threonylcarbamoyladenosine (m6t6A37). We have isolated a mutant of E. coli that lacks the m6t6A37 in these two tRNAGGUThr species. These tRNA species in the mutant are likely to have t6A37 instead of m6t6A37. We show that the methyl group of m6t6A37 originates from S-adenosyl-l-methionine and that the gene (tsaA) which most likely encodes tRNA(m6t6A37)methyltransferase is located at min 4.6 on the E. coli chromosomal map. The growth rate of the cell, the polypeptide chain elongation rate, and the selection of Thr-tRNAGGUThr to the ribosomal A site programmed with either of the cognate codons ACC and ACU were the same for the tsaA1 mutant as for the congenic wild-type strain. The expression of the threonine operon is regulated by an attenuator which contains in its leader mRNA seven ACC codons that are read by these two m6t6A37-containing tRNAGGUThr species. We show that the tsaA1 mutation resulted in a twofold derepression of this operon, suggesting that the lack of the methyl group of m6t6A37 in tRNAGGUThr slightly reduces the efficiency of this tRNA to read cognate codon ACC.
PMCID: PMC107094  PMID: 9537379
17.  Characterization and Structure of the Aquifex aeolicus Protein DUF752 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2012;287(52):43950-43960.
Background: Escherichia coli encodes a bifunctional oxidase/methyltransferase catalyzing the final steps of methylaminomethyluridine (mnm5U) formation in tRNA wobble positions.
Results: Aquifex aeolicus encodes only a monofunctional aminomethyluridine-dependent methyltransferase, lacking the oxidase domain.
Conclusion: An alternative pathway exists for mnm5U biogenesis.
Significance: Information about how an organism modifies the wobble base of its tRNA is important for understanding the emergence of the genetic code.
Post-transcriptional modifications of the wobble uridine (U34) of tRNAs play a critical role in reading NNA/G codons belonging to split codon boxes. In a subset of Escherichia coli tRNA, this wobble uridine is modified to 5-methylaminomethyluridine (mnm5U34) through sequential enzymatic reactions. Uridine 34 is first converted to 5-carboxymethylaminomethyluridine (cmnm5U34) by the MnmE-MnmG enzyme complex. The cmnm5U34 is further modified to mnm5U by the bifunctional MnmC protein. In the first reaction, the FAD-dependent oxidase domain (MnmC1) converts cmnm5U into 5-aminomethyluridine (nm5U34), and this reaction is immediately followed by the methylation of the free amino group into mnm5U34 by the S-adenosylmethionine-dependent domain (MnmC2). Aquifex aeolicus lacks a bifunctional MnmC protein fusion and instead encodes the Rossmann-fold protein DUF752, which is homologous to the methyltransferase MnmC2 domain of Escherichia coli MnmC (26% identity). Here, we determined the crystal structure of the A. aeolicus DUF752 protein at 2.5 Å resolution, which revealed that it catalyzes the S-adenosylmethionine-dependent methylation of nm5U in vitro, to form mnm5U34 in tRNA. We also showed that naturally occurring tRNA from A. aeolicus contains the 5-mnm group attached to the C5 atom of U34. Taken together, these results support the recent proposal of an alternative MnmC1-independent shortcut pathway for producing mnm5U34 in tRNAs.
PMCID: PMC3527978  PMID: 23091054
Crystal Structure; RNA Methyltransferase; RNA Modification; S-Adenosylmethionine (AdoMet); Transfer RNA (tRNA); Genetic Code; tRNA Anticodon; Wobble Uridine
18.  Escherichia coli mutants with defects in the biosynthesis of 5-methylaminomethyl-2-thio-uridine or 1-methylguanosine in their tRNA. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1978;133(2):508-517.
Two tRNA methyltransferase mutants, isolated as described in the accompanying paper (G.R. Björk and K. Kjellin-Stråby, J. Bacteriol. 133:499-207, 1978), are biochemicaaly and genetically characterized. tRNA from mutant IB13 lacks 5-methylaminomethyl-2-thio-uridine in vivo due to a permanently nonfunctional methyltransferase. Thus tRNA from this mutant is a specific substrate for the corresponding tRNA methyltransferase in vitro. In spite of this defect in tRNA, such a mutant is viable. Mutant IB11 is conditionally defective in the biosynthesis of 1-methylguanosine in tRNA due to a temperature-sensitive tRNA (1-methyl-guanosine) methyltransferase. In mutant cells grown at a high temperature, the level of 1-methylguanosine in bulk tRNA is 20% of that of the wild type, demonstrating that in this mutant an 80% deficiency of 1-methylguanosine in tRNA is not lethal. Genetically these two distinct lesions, trmC2, causing 5=methylaminomethyl-2-thio-uridine deficiency, and trmD1, giving a temperature-sensitive tRNA (1-methylguanosine)methyltransferase, are both located between 50 and 61 min on the Escherichia coli chromosome.
PMCID: PMC222052  PMID: 342495
19.  The spoU gene of Escherichia coli, the fourth gene of the spoT operon, is essential for tRNA (Gm18) 2'-O-methyltransferase activity. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1997;25(20):4093-4097.
We have evidence that the open reading frame previously denoted spoU is necessary for tRNA (Gm18) 2'-O-methyltransferase activity. The spoU gene is located in the gmk-rpoZ-spoT-spoU-recG operon at 82 minutes on the Escherichia coli chromosome. The deduced amino acid sequence of spoU shows strong similarities to previously characterized 2'-O-methyltransferases. Comparison of the nucleoside modification pattern of hydrolyzed tRNA, 16S rRNA and 23S rRNA from wild-type and spoU null mutants showed that the modified nucleoside 2'-O-methylguanosine (Gm), present in a subset of E. coli tRNAs at residue 18, is completely absent in the spoU mutant, suggesting that spoU encodes tRNA (Gm18) 2'-O-methyltransferase. Nucleoside modification of 16S and 23S rRNA was unaffected in the spoU mutant. Insertions in the downstream recG gene did not affect RNA modification. Absence of Gm18 in tRNA does not influence growth rate under the tested conditions and does not interfere with activity of the SupF amber suppressor, a suppressor tRNA that normally has the Gm18 modification. We suggest that the spoU gene be renamed trmH (tRNA methylation).
PMCID: PMC146995  PMID: 9321663
20.  Isolation and partial characterization of three Escherichia coli mutants with altered transfer ribonucleic acid methylases. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1975;122(1):257-265.
Seven transfer ribonucleic acid (tRNA) methylase mutants were isolated from Escherichia coli K-12 by examining the ability of RNA prepared from clones of unselected mutagenized cells to accept methyl groups from S-adenosylmethionine catalyzed by crude enzymes from wild-type cells. Five of the mutants had an altered uracil-tRNA methylase; consequently their tRNA's lacked ribothymidine. One mutant had tRNA deficient in 7-methylguanosine, and one mutant contained tRNA lacking 2-thio-5-methylaminomethyluridine. The genetic loci of the three tRNA methylase mutants were distributed over the E. coli genome. The mutant strain deficient in 7-methylguanosine biosynthesis showed a reduced efficiency in the suppression of amber mutations carried by T4 or lambda phages.
PMCID: PMC235665  PMID: 1091626
21.  A role of ygfZ in the Escherichia coli response to plumbagin challenge 
Plumbagin is found in many herbal plants and inhibits the growth of various bacteria. Escherichia coli strains are relatively resistant to this drug. The mechanism of resistance is not clear. Previous findings showed that plumbagin treatment triggered up-regulation of many genes in E. coli including ahpC, mdaB, nfnB, nfo, sodA, yggX and ygfZ. By analyzing minimal inhibition concentration and inhibition zones of plumbagin in various gene-disruption mutants, ygfZ and sodA were found critical for the bacteria to resist plumbagin toxicity. We also found that the roles of YgfZ and SodA in detoxifying plumbagin are independent of each other. This is because of the fact that ectopically expressed SodA reduced the superoxide stress but not restore the resistance of bacteria when encountering plumbagin at the absence of ygfZ. On the other hand, an ectopically expressed YgfZ was unable to complement and failed to rescue the plumbagin resistance when sodA was perturbed. Furthermore, mutagenesis analysis showed that residue Cys228 within YgfZ fingerprint region was critical for the resistance of E. coli to plumbagin. By solvent extraction and HPLC analysis to follow the fate of the chemical, it was found that plumbagin vanished apparently from the culture of YgfZ-expressing E. coli. A less toxic form, methylated plumbagin, which may represent one of the YgfZ-dependent metabolites, was found in the culture supernatant of the wild type E. coli but not in the ΔygfZ mutant. Our results showed that the presence of ygfZ is not only critical for the E coli resistance to plumbagin but also facilitates the plumbagin degradation.
PMCID: PMC2989944  PMID: 21059273
22.  The human tRNA m5C methyltransferase Misu is multisite-specific 
RNA Biology  2012;9(11):1331-1338.
The human tRNA m5C methyltransferase Misu is a novel downstream target of the proto-oncogene Myc that participates in controlling cell division and proliferation. Misu catalyzes the transfer of a methyl group from S-adenosyl-L-methionine to carbon 5 of cytosines in tRNAs. It was previously shown to catalyze in vitro the intron-dependent formation of m5C at the first position of the anticodon (position 34) within the human pre-tRNALeu(CAA). In addition, it was recently reported that C48 and C49 are methylated in vivo by Misu. We report here the expression of hMisu in Escherichia coli and its purification to homogeneity. We show that this enzyme methylates position 48 in tRNALeu(CAA) with or without intron and positions 48, 49 and 50 in tRNAGly2(GCC) in vitro. Therefore, hMisu is the enzyme responsible for the methylation of at least four cytosines in human tRNAs. By comparison, the orthologous yeast enzyme Trm4 catalyzes the methylation of carbon 5 of cytosine at positions 34, 40, 48 or 49 depending on the tRNAs.
PMCID: PMC3597573  PMID: 22995836
tRNA modification enzyme; RNA methyltransferase; 5-methylcytosine; m5C; Misu; NSun2; Trm4
23.  The Conserved Cys-X1-X2-Cys Motif Present in the TtcA Protein Is Required for the Thiolation of Cytidine in Position 32 of tRNA from Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium 
Journal of Bacteriology  2004;186(3):750-757.
The modified nucleoside 2-thiocytidine (s2C) has so far been found in tRNA from organisms belonging to the phylogenetic domains Archaea and Bacteria. In the bacteria Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium, s2C is present in position 32 of only four tRNA species—\documentclass[12pt]{minimal} \usepackage{amsmath} \usepackage{wasysym} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsbsy} \usepackage{mathrsfs} \setlength{\oddsidemargin}{-69pt} \begin{document} \begin{equation*}tRNA_{ICG}^{Arg}\end{equation*}\end{document}, \documentclass[12pt]{minimal} \usepackage{amsmath} \usepackage{wasysym} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsbsy} \usepackage{mathrsfs} \setlength{\oddsidemargin}{-69pt} \begin{document} \begin{equation*}tRNA_{CCG}^{Arg}\end{equation*}\end{document}, \documentclass[12pt]{minimal} \usepackage{amsmath} \usepackage{wasysym} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsbsy} \usepackage{mathrsfs} \setlength{\oddsidemargin}{-69pt} \begin{document} \begin{equation*}tRNA_{mnm^{5}UCU}^{Arg}\end{equation*}\end{document}, and \documentclass[12pt]{minimal} \usepackage{amsmath} \usepackage{wasysym} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsbsy} \usepackage{mathrsfs} \setlength{\oddsidemargin}{-69pt} \begin{document} \begin{equation*}tRNA_{GCU}^{Ser}\end{equation*}\end{document}. An in-frame deletion of an S. enterica gene (designated ttcA, for “two-thio-cytidine”) was constructed, and such a mutant has no detectable s2C in its tRNA. The TtcA protein family is characterized by the existence of both a PP-loop and a Cys-X1-X2-Cys motif in the central region of the protein but can be divided into two distinct groups based on the presence and location of additional Cys-X1-X2-Cys motifs in terminal regions of the sequence. Mutant analysis showed that both cysteines in this central conserved Cys-X1-X2-Cys motif are required for the formation of s2C. The ΔttcA1 mutant grows at the same rate as the congenic wild-type strain, and no growth disadvantage caused by the lack of s2C was observed in a mixed-population experiment. Lack of s2C32 did not reduce the selection rate at the ribosomal aminoacyl-tRNA site (A-site) for \documentclass[12pt]{minimal} \usepackage{amsmath} \usepackage{wasysym} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsbsy} \usepackage{mathrsfs} \setlength{\oddsidemargin}{-69pt} \begin{document} \begin{equation*}Arg-tRNA_{ICG}^{Arg}\end{equation*}\end{document} at any of its cognate CGN codons, whereas A-site selection at AGG by \documentclass[12pt]{minimal} \usepackage{amsmath} \usepackage{wasysym} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsbsy} \usepackage{mathrsfs} \setlength{\oddsidemargin}{-69pt} \begin{document} \begin{equation*}Arg-tRNA_{mnm^{5}UCU}^{Arg}\end{equation*}\end{document} was dependent on the presence of s2C32. The presence of s2C32 in peptidyl-\documentclass[12pt]{minimal} \usepackage{amsmath} \usepackage{wasysym} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsbsy} \usepackage{mathrsfs} \setlength{\oddsidemargin}{-69pt} \begin{document} \begin{equation*}tRNA_{CCU}^{Arg}\end{equation*}\end{document} or in peptidyl-\documentclass[12pt]{minimal} \usepackage{amsmath} \usepackage{wasysym} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsbsy} \usepackage{mathrsfs} \setlength{\oddsidemargin}{-69pt} \begin{document} \begin{equation*}tRNA_{mnm^{5}UCU}^{Arg}\end{equation*}\end{document} interfered with decoding in the A-site. The presence of s2C32 in \documentclass[12pt]{minimal} \usepackage{amsmath} \usepackage{wasysym} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsbsy} \usepackage{mathrsfs} \setlength{\oddsidemargin}{-69pt} \begin{document} \begin{equation*}tRNA_{ICG}^{Arg}\end{equation*}\end{document} decreased the rate of translation of the CGA codon but not that of the CGU codon.
PMCID: PMC321475  PMID: 14729701
24.  Stringent regulation of the synthesis of a transfer ribonucleic acid biosynthetic enzyme: transfer ribonucleic acid(m5U)methyltransferase from Escherichia coli. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1977;130(2):635-641.
This paper describes the regulation of a transfer ribonucleic acid (tRNA) biosynthetic enzyme, the tRNA(m5U)methyltransferase (EC This enzyme catalyzes the formation of 5-methyluridine (m5U, ribothymidine) in all tRNA chains of Escherichia coli. Partial deprivation of charged tRNAVal can be imposed by shifting strains carrying a temperature-sensitive valyl-tRNA ligase from a permissive to a semipermissive temperature. By using two such strains differing only in the allelic state of the relA gene, it was possible to show the tRNA(m5U)methyltransferase to be stringently regulated. Upon partial deprivation of charged tRNAVal, the differential rate of tRNA(m5U)methyltransferase synthesis was found to decrease in a strain with stringent RNA control (relA+), whereas it increased in the strain carrying the relA allele. This increase of accumulation of tRNA(m5U)methyltransferase activity required protein synthesis. Thus, when tRNA is partially uncharged in the cell, the relA gene product influences the expression of tRNA(m5U)methyltransferase gene.
PMCID: PMC235262  PMID: 95660
25.  The tRNA(guanine-26,N2-N2) methyltransferase (Trm1) from the hyperthermophilic archaeon Pyrococcus furiosus: cloning, sequencing of the gene and its expression in Escherichia coli. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1998;26(16):3753-3761.
The structural gene pfTRM1 (GenBank accession no. AF051912), encoding tRNA(guanine-26, N 2- N 2) methyltransferase (EC 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.
PMCID: PMC147764  PMID: 9685492

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