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1.  A Cytidine Deaminase Edits C to U in Transfer RNAs in Archaea 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2009;324(5927):657-659.
All canonical transfer RNAs (tRNAs) have a uridine at position 8, involved in maintaining tRNA tertiary structure. However, the hyperthermophilic archaeon Methanopyrus kandleri harbors 30 (out of 34) tRNA genes with cytidine at position 8. Here, we demonstrate C-to-U editing at this location in the tRNA’s tertiary core, and present the crystal structure of a tRNA-specific cytidine deaminase, CDAT8, which has the cytidine deaminase domain linked to a tRNA-binding THUMP domain. CDAT8 is specific for C deamination at position 8, requires only the acceptor stem hairpin for activity, and belongs to a unique family within the “cytidine deaminase–like” superfamily. The presence of this C-to-U editing enzyme guarantees the proper folding and functionality of all M. kandleri tRNAs.
PMCID: PMC2857566  PMID: 19407206
2.  Insights into the hyperthermostability and unusual region-specificity of archaeal Pyrococcus abyssi tRNA m1A57/58 methyltransferase 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;38(18):6206-6218.
The S-adenosyl-l-methionine dependent methylation of adenine 58 in the T-loop of tRNAs is essential for cell growth in yeast or for adaptation to high temperatures in thermophilic organisms. In contrast to bacterial and eukaryotic tRNA m1A58 methyltransferases that are site-specific, the homologous archaeal enzyme from Pyrococcus abyssi catalyzes the formation of m1A also at the adjacent position 57, m1A57 being a precursor of 1-methylinosine. We report here the crystal structure of P. abyssi tRNA m1A57/58 methyltransferase (PabTrmI), in complex with S-adenosyl-l-methionine or S-adenosyl-l-homocysteine in three different space groups. The fold of the monomer and the tetrameric architecture are similar to those of the bacterial enzymes. However, the inter-monomer contacts exhibit unique features. In particular, four disulfide bonds contribute to the hyperthermostability of the archaeal enzyme since their mutation lowers the melting temperature by 16.5°C. His78 in conserved motif X, which is present only in TrmIs from the Thermococcocales order, lies near the active site and displays two alternative conformations. Mutagenesis indicates His78 is important for catalytic efficiency of PabTrmI. When A59 is absent in tRNAAsp, only A57 is modified. Identification of the methylated positions in tRNAAsp by mass spectrometry confirms that PabTrmI methylates the first adenine of an AA sequence.
PMCID: PMC2952851  PMID: 20483913
3.  A subcomplex of human mitochondrial RNase P is a bifunctional methyltransferase—extensive moonlighting in mitochondrial tRNA biogenesis 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;40(22):11583-11593.
Transfer RNAs (tRNAs) reach their mature functional form through several steps of processing and modification. Some nucleotide modifications affect the proper folding of tRNAs, and they are crucial in case of the non-canonically structured animal mitochondrial tRNAs, as exemplified by the apparently ubiquitous methylation of purines at position 9. Here, we show that a subcomplex of human mitochondrial RNase P, the endonuclease removing tRNA 5′ extensions, is the methyltransferase responsible for m1G9 and m1A9 formation. The ability of the mitochondrial tRNA:m1R9 methyltransferase to modify both purines is uncommon among nucleic acid modification enzymes. In contrast to all the related methyltransferases, the human mitochondrial enzyme, moreover, requires a short-chain dehydrogenase as a partner protein. Human mitochondrial RNase P, thus, constitutes a multifunctional complex, whose subunits moonlight in cascade: a fatty and amino acid degradation enzyme in tRNA methylation and the methyltransferase, in turn, in tRNA 5′ end processing.
PMCID: PMC3526285  PMID: 23042678
4.  Formation of m2G6 in Methanocaldococcus jannaschii tRNA catalyzed by the novel methyltransferase Trm14 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;39(17):7641-7655.
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.
PMCID: PMC3177210  PMID: 21693558
5.  Expression, purification, crystallization and preliminary X-ray studies of the TAN1 ortholog from Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus 
MTH909 is the Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus ortholog of Saccharomyces cerevisiae TAN1, which is required for N4-acetylcytidine formation in tRNA. The protein consists of an N-terminal near ferredoxin-like domain and a C-terminal THUMP domain. Unlike most other proteins containing the THUMP domain, TAN1 lacks any catalytic domains and has been proposed to form a complex with a catalytic protein capable of making base modifications. MTH909 has been cloned, over-expressed and purified. The molecule exists as a monomer in solution. X-ray data from a native crystal, belonging to the space group P6122 (P6522) with the unit cell dimensions of a = 69.9 Å and c = 408.5 Å, have been collected to 2.85 Å resolution.
MTH909, the Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus ortholog of Saccharomyces cerevisiae TAN1, has been over-expressed, purified and crystallized. X-ray data from a crystal belonging to the space group P6122 (P6522) have been collected to 2.85 Å resolution.
PMCID: PMC2581707  PMID: 18997348
THUMP domain; TAN1; RNA-binding
6.  Expression, purification, crystallization and preliminary X-ray studies of the TAN1 orthologue from Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus  
MTH909, the M. thermautotrophicus orthologue of S. cerevisiae TAN1, has been overexpressed, purified and crystallized. X-ray data were collected to 2.85 Å resolution from a crystal belonging to space group P6122 (or P6522).
MTH909 is the Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus orthologue of Saccharomyces cerevisiae TAN1, which is required for N 4-acetylcytidine formation in tRNA. The protein consists of an N-terminal near-ferredoxin-like domain and a C-terminal THUMP domain. Unlike most other proteins containing the THUMP domain, TAN1 lacks any catalytic domains and has been proposed to form a complex with a catalytic protein that is capable of making base modifications. MTH909 has been cloned, overexpressed and purified. The molecule exists as a monomer in solution. X-ray data were collected to 2.85 Å resolution from a native crystal belonging to space group P6122 (or P6522), with unit-cell parameters a = 69.9, c = 408.5 Å.
PMCID: PMC2581707  PMID: 18997348
THUMP domains; TAN1; RNA binding
7.  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
8.  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
9.  The Rhodanese Domain of ThiI Is Both Necessary and Sufficient for Synthesis of the Thiazole Moiety of Thiamine in Salmonella enterica ▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2011;193(18):4582-4587.
In Salmonella enterica, ThiI is a bifunctional enzyme required for the synthesis of both the 4-thiouridine modification in tRNA and the thiazole moiety of thiamine. In 4-thiouridine biosynthesis, ThiI adenylates the tRNA uridine and transfers sulfur from a persulfide formed on the protein. The role of ThiI in thiazole synthesis is not yet well understood. Mutational analysis described here found that ThiI residues required for 4-thiouridine synthesis were not involved in thiazole biosynthesis. The data further showed that the C-terminal rhodanese domain of ThiI was sufficient for thiazole synthesis in vivo. Together, these data support the conclusion that sulfur mobilization in thiazole synthesis is mechanistically distinct from that in 4-thiouridine synthesis and suggest that functional annotation of ThiI in genome sequences should be readdressed. Nutritional studies described here identified an additional cysteine-dependent mechanism for sulfur mobilization to thiazole that did not require ThiI, IscS, SufS, or glutathione. The latter mechanism may provide insights into the chemistry used for sulfur mobilization to thiazole in organisms that do not utilize ThiI.
PMCID: PMC3165671  PMID: 21724998
10.  Comparative Study of Two Box H/ACA Ribonucleoprotein Pseudouridine-Synthases: Relation between Conformational Dynamics of the Guide RNA, Enzyme Assembly and Activity 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e70313.
Multiple RNA-guided pseudouridine synthases, H/ACA ribonucleoprotein particles (RNPs) which contain a guide RNA and four proteins, catalyze site-specific post-transcriptional isomerization of uridines into pseudouridines in substrate RNAs. In archaeal particles, the guide small RNA (sRNA) is anchored by the pseudouridine synthase aCBF5 and the ribosomal protein L7Ae. Protein aNOP10 interacts with both aCBF5 and L7Ae. The fourth protein, aGAR1, interacts with aCBF5 and enhances catalytic efficiency. Here, we compared the features of two H/ACA sRNAs, Pab21 and Pab91, from Pyrococcus abyssi. We found that aCBF5 binds much more weakly to Pab91 than to Pab21. Surprisingly, the Pab91 sRNP exhibits a higher catalytic efficiency than the Pab21 sRNP. We thus investigated the molecular basis of the differential efficiencies observed for the assembly and catalytic activity of the two enzymes. For this, we compared profiles of the extent of lead-induced cleavages in these sRNAs during a stepwise reconstitution of the sRNPs, and analyzed the impact of the absence of the aNOP10–L7Ae interaction. Such probing experiments indicated that the sRNAs undergo a series of conformational changes upon RNP assembly. These changes were also evaluated directly by circular dichroism (CD) spectroscopy, a tool highly adapted to analyzing RNA conformational dynamics. In addition, our results reveal that the conformation of helix P1 formed at the base of the H/ACA sRNAs is optimized in Pab21 for efficient aCBF5 binding and RNP assembly. Moreover, P1 swapping improved the assembly of the Pab91 sRNP. Nonetheless, efficient aCBF5 binding probably also relies on the pseudouridylation pocket which is not optimized for high activity in the case of Pab21.
PMCID: PMC3726423  PMID: 23922977
11.  Crystal structure determination and site-directed mutagenesis of the Pyrococcus abyssi aCBF5–aNOP10 complex reveal crucial roles of the C-terminal domains of both proteins in H/ACA sRNP activity 
Nucleic Acids Research  2006;34(3):826-839.
In archaeal rRNAs, the isomerization of uridine into pseudouridine (Ψ) is achieved by the H/ACA sRNPs and the minimal set of proteins required for RNA:Ψ-synthase activity is the aCBF5–aNOP10 protein pair. The crystal structure of the aCBF5–aNOP10 heterodimer from Pyrococcus abyssi was solved at 2.1 Å resolution. In this structure, protein aNOP10 has an extended shape, with a zinc-binding motif at the N-terminus and an α-helix at the C-terminus. Both motifs contact the aCBF5 catalytic domain. Although less efficiently as does the full-length aNOP10, the aNOP10 C-terminal domain binds aCBF5 and stimulates the RNA-guided activity. We show that the C-terminal domain of aCBF5 (the PUA domain), which is wrapped by an N-terminal extension of aCBF5, plays a crucial role for aCBF5 binding to the guide sRNA. Addition of this domain in trans partially complement particles assembled with an aCBF5ΔPUA truncated protein. In the crystal structure, the aCBF5–aNOP10 complex forms two kinds of heterotetramers with parallel and perpendicular orientations of the aNOP10 terminal α-helices, respectively. By gel filtration assay, we showed that aNOP10 can dimerize in solution. As both residues Y41 and L48 were needed for dimerization, the dimerization likely takes place by interaction of parallel α-helices.
PMCID: PMC1361308  PMID: 16456033
12.  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
13.  The nucleotide sequence of spinach chloroplast methionine elongator tRNA. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1981;9(1):183-188.
The nucleotide sequence of spinach chloroplast methionine elongator tRNA (sp. chl. tRNAm Met) has been determined. This tRNA is considerably more homologous to E. coli tRNAm Met (67% homology) than to the three known eukaryotic tRNAm Met (50-55% homology). Sp. chl. tRNAm Met, like the eight other chloroplast tRNAs sequenced, contains a methylated GG sequence in the dihydrouridine loop and lacks unusual structural features which have been found in several mitochondrial tRNAs.
PMCID: PMC326677  PMID: 7010309
14.  Mammalian ALKBH8 Possesses tRNA Methyltransferase Activity Required for the Biogenesis of Multiple Wobble Uridine Modifications Implicated in Translational Decoding▿  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2010;30(7):1814-1827.
Uridines in the wobble position of tRNA are almost invariably modified. Modifications can increase the efficiency of codon reading, but they also prevent mistranslation by limiting wobbling. In mammals, several tRNAs have 5-methoxycarbonylmethyluridine (mcm5U) or derivatives thereof in the wobble position. Through analysis of tRNA from Alkbh8−/− mice, we show here that ALKBH8 is a tRNA methyltransferase required for the final step in the biogenesis of mcm5U. We also demonstrate that the interaction of ALKBH8 with a small accessory protein, TRM112, is required to form a functional tRNA methyltransferase. Furthermore, prior ALKBH8-mediated methylation is a prerequisite for the thiolation and 2′-O-ribose methylation that form 5-methoxycarbonylmethyl-2-thiouridine (mcm5s2U) and 5-methoxycarbonylmethyl-2′-O-methyluridine (mcm5Um), respectively. Despite the complete loss of all of these uridine modifications, Alkbh8−/− mice appear normal. However, the selenocysteine-specific tRNA (tRNASec) is aberrantly modified in the Alkbh8−/− mice, and for the selenoprotein Gpx1, we indeed observed reduced recoding of the UGA stop codon to selenocysteine.
PMCID: PMC2838068  PMID: 20123966
15.  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
16.  Identification of human tRNA:m5C methyltransferase catalysing intron-dependent m5C formation in the first position of the anticodon of the pre-tRNA(CAA)Leu 
Nucleic Acids Research  2006;34(20):6034-6043.
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.
PMCID: PMC1635329  PMID: 17071714
17.  The Amyloid-β-SDR5C1(ABAD) Interaction Does Not Mediate a Specific Inhibition of Mitochondrial RNase P 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e65609.
The amyloid-β peptide (Aβ) is suggested to cause mitochondrial dysfunction in Alzheimer’s disease. The mitochondrial dehydrogenase SDR5C1 (also known as ABAD) was shown to bind Aβ and was proposed to thereby mediate mitochondrial toxicity, but the molecular mechanism has not been clarified. We recently identified SDR5C1 as an essential component of human mitochondrial RNase P and its associated tRNA:m1R9 methyltransferase, the enzymes responsible for tRNA 5′-end processing and methylation of purines at tRNA position 9, respectively. With this work we investigated whether SDR5C1’s role as a subunit of these two tRNA-maturation activities represents the mechanistic link between Aβ and mitochondrial dysfunction. Using recombinant enzyme components, we tested RNase P and methyltransferase activity upon titration of Aβ. Micromolar concentrations of monomeric or oligomerized Aβ were required to inhibit tRNA 5′-end processing and position 9 methylation catalyzed by the SDR5C1-containing enzymes, yet similar concentrations of Aβ also inhibited related RNase P and methyltransferase activities, which do not contain an SDR5C1 homolog. In conclusion, the proposed deleterious effect of Aβ on mitochondrial function cannot be explained by a specific inhibition of mitochondrial RNase P or its tRNA:m1R9 methyltransferase subcomplex, and the molecular mechanism of SDR5C1-mediated Aβ toxicity remains unclear.
PMCID: PMC3673994  PMID: 23755257
18.  A single methyltransferase YefA (RlmCD) catalyses both m5U747 and m5U1939 modifications in Bacillus subtilis 23S rRNA 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;39(21):9368-9375.
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.
PMCID: PMC3241648  PMID: 21824914
19.  New archaeal methyltransferases forming 1-methyladenosine or 1-methyladenosine and 1-methylguanosine at position 9 of tRNA 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;38(19):6533-6543.
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.
PMCID: PMC2965216  PMID: 20525789
20.  Crystal structure of Bacillus subtilis TrmB, the tRNA (m7G46) methyltransferase 
Nucleic Acids Research  2006;34(6):1925-1934.
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.
PMCID: PMC1447647  PMID: 16600901
21.  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
22.  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
23.  Archaeal β-CASP ribonucleases of the aCPSF1 family are orthologs of the eukaryal CPSF-73 factor 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;41(2):1091-1103.
Bacterial RNase J and eukaryal cleavage and polyadenylation specificity factor (CPSF-73) are members of the β-CASP family of ribonucleases involved in mRNA processing and degradation. Here we report an in-depth phylogenomic analysis that delineates aRNase J and archaeal CPSF (aCPSF) as distinct orthologous groups and establishes their repartition in 110 archaeal genomes. The aCPSF1 subgroup, which has been inherited vertically and is strictly conserved, is characterized by an N-terminal extension with two K homology (KH) domains and a C-terminal motif involved in dimerization of the holoenzyme. Pab-aCPSF1 (Pyrococcus abyssi homolog) has an endoribonucleolytic activity that preferentially cleaves at single-stranded CA dinucleotides and a 5′–3′ exoribonucleolytic activity that acts on 5′ monophosphate substrates. These activities are the same as described for the eukaryotic cleavage and polyadenylation factor, CPSF-73, when engaged in the CPSF complex. The N-terminal KH domains are important for endoribonucleolytic cleavage at certain specific sites and the formation of stable high molecular weight ribonucleoprotein complexes. Dimerization of Pab-aCPSF is important for exoribonucleolytic activity and RNA binding. Altogether, our results suggest that aCPSF1 performs an essential function and that an enzyme with similar activities was present in the last common ancestor of Archaea and Eukarya.
PMCID: PMC3553952  PMID: 23222134
24.  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
25.  Crystallization and preliminary X-ray analysis of the yeast tRNA-thiouridine modification protein 1 (Tum1p) 
Yeast tRNA-thiouridine modification protein 1 was overpressed in E. coli, purified and crystallized. The crystals belonged to space group I41 and diffracted to a resolution of 1.9 Å.
Yeast tRNA-thiouridine modification protein 1 (Tum1p), a crucial component of the Urm1 system, is believed to play important roles in protein urmylation and tRNA-thiouridine modification. Previous studies have demonstrated that the con­served residue Cys259 in the C-terminal rhodanese-like domain of Tum1p is essential for these sulfur-transfer activities. Here, recombinant Tum1p protein has been cloned and overexpressed in Escherichia coli strain BL21 (DE3). After purification, crystals of Tum1p were obtained by the hanging-drop vapour-diffusion method and diffracted to 1.9 Å resolution. The preliminary X-ray data showed that the tetragonal Tum1p crystal belonged to space group I41, with unit-cell parameters a = b = 120.94, c = 48.35 Å. The asymmetric unit of the crystal was assumed to contain one protein molecule, giving a Matthews coefficient of 2.41 Å3 Da−1 and a solvent content of 49.0%.
PMCID: PMC3151136  PMID: 21821903
Tum1p; Urm1 system; rhodanese

Results 1-25 (232236)