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1.  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
2.  Crystal structures of the tRNA:m2G6 methyltransferase Trm14/TrmN from two domains of life 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;40(11):5149-5161.
Methyltransferases (MTases) form a major class of tRNA-modifying enzymes needed for the proper functioning of tRNA. Recently, RNA MTases from the TrmN/Trm14 family that are present in Archaea, Bacteria and Eukaryota have been shown to specifically modify tRNAPhe at guanosine 6 in the tRNA acceptor stem. Here, we report the first X-ray crystal structures of the tRNA m2G6 (N2-methylguanosine) MTase TTCTrmN from Thermus thermophilus and its ortholog PfTrm14 from Pyrococcus furiosus. Structures of PfTrm14 were solved in complex with the methyl donor S-adenosyl-l-methionine (SAM or AdoMet), as well as the reaction product S-adenosyl-homocysteine (SAH or AdoHcy) and the inhibitor sinefungin. TTCTrmN and PfTrm14 consist of an N-terminal THUMP domain fused to a catalytic Rossmann-fold MTase (RFM) domain. These results represent the first crystallographic structure analysis of proteins containing both THUMP and RFM domain, and hence provide further insight in the contribution of the THUMP domain in tRNA recognition and catalysis. Electrostatics and conservation calculations suggest a main tRNA binding surface in a groove between the THUMP domain and the MTase domain. This is further supported by a docking model of TrmN in complex with tRNAPhe of T. thermophilus and via site-directed mutagenesis.
PMCID: PMC3367198  PMID: 22362751
3.  Control of Catalytic Cycle by A Pair of Analogous tRNA Modification Enzymes 
Journal of molecular biology  2010;400(2):204-217.
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.
PMCID: PMC2892103  PMID: 20452364
Trm5; TrmD; burst kinetics; tRNA(m1G37); half-of-the-site reactivity
4.  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
5.  Structural comparison of tRNA m1A58 methyltransferases revealed different molecular strategies to maintain their oligomeric architecture under extreme conditions 
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.
PMCID: PMC3281791  PMID: 22168821
6.  Crystal structure of tRNA m1G9 methyltransferase Trm10: insight into the catalytic mechanism and recognition of tRNA substrate 
Nucleic Acids Research  2013;42(1):509-525.
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.
PMCID: PMC3874184  PMID: 24081582
7.  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
8.  The YqfN protein of Bacillus subtilis is the tRNA: m1A22 methyltransferase (TrmK) 
Nucleic Acids Research  2008;36(10):3252-3262.
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.
PMCID: PMC2425500  PMID: 18420655
9.  Conserved amino acids in each subunit of the heteroligomeric tRNA m1A58 Mtase from Saccharomyces cerevisiae contribute to tRNA binding 
Nucleic Acids Research  2007;35(20):6808-6819.
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.
PMCID: PMC2175304  PMID: 17932071
10.  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
11.  Trm11p and Trm112p Are both Required for the Formation of 2-Methylguanosine at Position 10 in Yeast tRNA†  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2005;25(11):4359-4370.
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.
PMCID: PMC1140639  PMID: 15899842
12.  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
13.  The trmA promoter has regulatory features and sequence elements in common with the rRNA P1 promoter family of Escherichia coli. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1991;173(5):1757-1764.
The tRNA(m5U54)methyltransferase, whose structural gene is designated trmA, catalyzes the formation of 5-methyluridine in position 54 of all tRNA species in Escherichia coli. The synthesis of this enzyme has previously been shown to be both growth rate dependent and stringently regulated, suggesting regulatory features similar to those of rRNA. We have determined the complete nucleotide sequence of the trmA operon in E. coli and the sequence of the trmA promoter region in Salmonella typhimurium and also analyzed the transcriptional regulation of the gene. The trmA and the btuB (encoding the vitamin B12 outer membrane receptor protein) promoters are divergent promoters separated by 102 bp between the transcriptional start sites. The trmA promoters of both E. coli and S. typhimurium share promoter elements with the rRNA P1 promoter. The sequence downstream from the -10 region of the trmA promoter is homologous to the discriminatory region found in stringently regulated promoters. Next to and upstream from the -10 region is a sequence, TCCC, in the trmA promoter that is present in all of the seven rRNA P1 promoters and in some tRNA promoters but not in any other sigma 70 promoter. However, a similar motif is also found in promoters transcribed by the heat shock sigma factor sigma 32. The trmA gene is transcribed as a monocistronic operon, and the 3' end of the transcript is shown to be located downstream from a dyad symmetry region not followed by a poly(U) stretch. Using a trmA-cat operon fusion, we show that the growth rate-dependent regulation of trmA resembles that of rRNA and operates at the level of transcription.
PMCID: PMC207327  PMID: 1999392
14.  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
15.  The methyltransferase adaptor protein Trm112 is involved in biogenesis of both ribosomal subunits 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2012;23(21):4313-4322.
This study shows that Trm112 interacts with and is required for the presence of 18S rRNA methyltransferase Bud23. Also shown is the involvement of Trm112 in 60S biogenesis, thus extending the known functions of Trm112 from tRNA and translation factor methylation to roles in biogenesis of both ribosomal subunits.
We previously identified Bud23 as the methyltransferase that methylates G1575 of rRNA in the P-site of the small (40S) ribosomal subunit. In this paper, we show that Bud23 requires the methyltransferase adaptor protein Trm112 for stability in vivo. Deletion of Trm112 results in a bud23Δ-like mutant phenotype. Thus Trm112 is required for efficient small-subunit biogenesis. Genetic analysis suggests the slow growth of a trm112Δ mutant is due primarily to the loss of Bud23. Surprisingly, suppression of the bud23Δ-dependent 40S defect revealed a large (60S) biogenesis defect in a trm112Δ mutant. Using sucrose gradient sedimentation analysis and coimmunoprecipitation, we show that Trm112 is also involved in 60S subunit biogenesis. The 60S defect may be dependent on Nop2 and Rcm1, two additional Trm112 interactors that we identify. Our work extends the known range of Trm112 function from modification of tRNAs and translation factors to both ribosomal subunits, showing that its effects span all aspects of the translation machinery. Although Trm112 is required for Bud23 stability, our results suggest that Trm112 is not maintained in a stable complex with Bud23. We suggest that Trm112 stabilizes its free methyltransferase partners not engaged with substrate and/or helps to deliver its methyltransferase partners to their substrates.
PMCID: PMC3484107  PMID: 22956767
16.  N7-Methylguanine at position 46 (m7G46) in tRNA from Thermus thermophilus is required for cell viability at high temperatures through a tRNA modification network 
Nucleic Acids Research  2009;38(3):942-957.
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.
PMCID: PMC2817472  PMID: 19934251
17.  Distinct Determinants of tRNA Recognition by the TrmD and Trm5 Methyl Transferases 
Journal of molecular biology  2007;373(3):623-632.
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.
PMCID: PMC2064070  PMID: 17868690
tRNA(m1G37) methyl transferase; anticodon stem-loop; frameshift suppressor tRNA; m1G37
18.  Mechanism of activation of methyltransferases involved in translation by the Trm112 ‘hub’ protein 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;39(14):6249-6259.
Methylation is a common modification encountered in DNA, RNA and proteins. It plays a central role in gene expression, protein function and mRNA translation. Prokaryotic and eukaryotic class I translation termination factors are methylated on the glutamine of the essential and universally conserved GGQ motif, in line with an important cellular role. In eukaryotes, this modification is performed by the Mtq2-Trm112 holoenzyme. Trm112 activates not only the Mtq2 catalytic subunit but also two other tRNA methyltransferases (Trm9 and Trm11). To understand the molecular mechanisms underlying methyltransferase activation by Trm112, we have determined the 3D structure of the Mtq2-Trm112 complex and mapped its active site. Using site-directed mutagenesis and in vivo functional experiments, we show that this structure can also serve as a model for the Trm9-Trm112 complex, supporting our hypothesis that Trm112 uses a common strategy to activate these three methyltransferases.
PMCID: PMC3152332  PMID: 21478168
Biochemistry  2006;45(24):7463-7473.
The enzyme tRNA(m1G37) methyl transferase catalyzes the transfer of a methyl group from S-adenosyl methionine (AdoMet) to the N1 position of G37, which is 3′ to the anticodon sequence and whose modification is important for maintaining the reading frame fidelity. While the enzyme in bacteria is highly conserved and is encoded by the trmD gene, recent studies show that the counterpart of this enzyme in archaea and eukarya, encoded by the trm5 gene, is unrelated to trmD both in sequence and in structure. To further test this prediction, we seek to identify residues in the second class of tRNA(m1G37) methyl transferase that are required for catalysis. Such residues should provide mechanistic insights into the distinct structural origins of the two classes. Using the Trm5 enzyme of the archaeon Methanocaldococcus jannaschii (previously MJ0883) as an example, we have created mutants to test many conserved residues for their catalytic potential and substrate-binding capabilities with respect to both AdoMet and tRNA. We identified that the proline at position 267 (P267) is a critical residue for catalysis, because substitution of this residue severely decreases kcat of the methylation reaction in steady-state kinetic analysis, and kchem in single turnover kinetic analysis. However, substitution of P267 has milder effect on Km and little effect on Kd of either substrate. Because P267 has no functional side chain that can directly participate in the chemistry of methyl transfer, we suggest that its role in catalysis is to stabilize conformations of enzyme and substrates for proper alignment of reactive groups at the enzyme active site. Sequence analysis shows that P267 is embedded in a peptide motif that is conserved among the Trm5 family, but absent from the TrmD family, supporting the notion that the two families are descendants of unrelated protein structures.
PMCID: PMC2517134  PMID: 16768442
20.  Crystallization and preliminary X-ray diffraction crystallographic study of tRNA m1A58 methyltransferase from Saccharomyces cerevisiae  
The expression, purification, crystallization and X-ray diffraction analysis of tRNA m1A58 methyltransferase from S. cerevisiae are reported.
In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, TRM6 and TRM61 compose a tRNA methyltrans­ferase which catalyzes the methylation of the N1 of adenine at position 58 in tRNAs, especially initiator methionine tRNA. TRM61 is the subunit that binds S-­adenosyl-l-methionine and both subunits contribute to target tRNA binding. In order to elucidate the catalytic mechanism of TRM6–TRM61 and the mode of interaction between the two subunits, expression, purification, crystallization and X-­ray diffraction analysis of the TRM6–TRM61 complex were performed in this study. The crystals diffracted to 2.80 Å resolution and belonged to the trigonal space group P3121 or P3221, with unit-cell parameters a = b = 139.14, c = 101.62 Å.
PMCID: PMC3212473  PMID: 22102254
tRNA m1A58 methyltransferase; Saccharomyces cerevisiae
21.  Crystal structure of tRNA m1A58 methyltransferase TrmI from Aquifex aeolicus in complex with S-adenosyl-l-methionine 
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.
PMCID: PMC4125815  PMID: 24894648
AdoMet; tRNA modification enzyme; Methylation; X-ray crystal structure; Structural genomics
22.  Dynamics of RNA modification by a multi-site-specific tRNA methyltransferase 
Nucleic Acids Research  2014;42(18):11697-11706.
In most organisms, the widely conserved 1-methyl-adenosine58 (m1A58) tRNA modification is catalyzed by an S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAM)-dependent, site-specific enzyme TrmI. In archaea, TrmI also methylates the adjacent adenine 57, m1A57 being an obligatory intermediate of 1-methyl-inosine57 formation. To study this multi-site specificity, we used three oligoribonucleotide substrates of Pyrococcus abyssi TrmI (PabTrmI) containing a fluorescent 2-aminopurine (2-AP) at the two target positions and followed the RNA binding kinetics and methylation reactions by stopped-flow and mass spectrometry. PabTrmI did not modify 2-AP but methylated the adjacent target adenine. 2-AP seriously impaired the methylation of A57 but not A58, confirming that PabTrmI methylates efficiently the first adenine of the A57A58A59 sequence. PabTrmI binding provoked a rapid increase of fluorescence, attributed to base unstacking in the environment of 2-AP. Then, a slow decrease was observed only with 2-AP at position 57 and SAM, suggesting that m1A58 formation triggers RNA release. A model of the protein–tRNA complex shows both target adenines in proximity of SAM and emphasizes no major tRNA conformational change except base flipping during the reaction. The solvent accessibility of the SAM pocket is not affected by the tRNA, thereby enabling S-adenosyl-L-homocysteine to be replaced by SAM without prior release of monomethylated tRNA.
PMCID: PMC4191401  PMID: 25217588
23.  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
24.  1-Methylguanosine deficiency of tRNA influences cognate codon interaction and metabolism in Salmonella typhimurium. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1995;177(22):6593-6600.
1-Methylguanosine (m1G) is present next to the 3' end of the anticodon (position 37) in tRNA(1,2,3,Leu), tRNA(1,2,3,Pro), and tRNA(3Arg). A mutant of Salmonella typhimurium lacks m1G in these seven tRNAs when grown at or above 37 degrees C, as a result of a mutation (trmD3) in the structural gene (trmD) for the tRNA(m1G37)methyltransferase. The m1G deficiency induced 24 and 26% reductions in the growth rate and polypeptide chain elongation rate, respectively, in morpholinepropanesulfonic acid (MOPS)-glucose minimal medium at 37 degrees C. The expression of the leuABCD operon is controlled by the rate with which tRNA(2Leu) and tRNA(3Leu) read four leucine codons in the leu-leader mRNA. Lack of m1G in these tRNAs did not influence the expression of this operon, suggesting that m1G did not influence the efficiency of tRNA(2,3Leu). Since the average step time of the m1G-deficient tRNAs was increased 3.3-fold, the results suggest that the impact of m1G in decoding cognate codons may be tRNA dependent. The trmD3 mutation rendered the cell more resistant or sensitive to several amino acid analogs. 3-Nitro-L-tyrosine (NT), to which the trmD3 mutant is sensitive, was shown to be transported by the tryptophan-specific permease, and mutations in this gene (mtr) render the cell resistant to NT. Since the trmD3 mutation did not affect the activity of the permease, some internal metabolic step(s), but not the uptake of the analog per se, is affected. We suggest that the trmD3-mediated NT sensitivity is by an abnormal translation of some mRNA(s) whose product(s) is involved in the metabolic reactions affected by the analog. Our results also suggest that tRNA modification may be a regulatory device for gene expression.
PMCID: PMC177513  PMID: 7592438
25.  Amino acid residues of the Escherichia coli tRNA(m5U54)methyltransferase (TrmA) critical for stability, covalent binding of tRNA and enzymatic activity 
Nucleic Acids Research  2007;35(10):3297-3305.
The Escherichia coli trmA gene encodes the tRNA(m5U54)methyltransferase, which catalyses the formation of m5U54 in tRNA. During the synthesis of m5U54, a covalent 62-kDa TrmA-tRNA intermediate is formed between the amino acid C324 of the enzyme and the 6-carbon of uracil. We have analysed the formation of this TrmA-tRNA intermediate and m5U54 in vivo, using mutants with altered TrmA. We show that the amino acids F188, Q190, G220, D299, R302, C324 and E358, conserved in the C-terminal catalytic domain of several RNA(m5U)methyltransferases of the COG2265 family, are important for the formation of the TrmA-tRNA intermediate and/or the enzymatic activity. These amino acids seem to have the same function as the ones present in the catalytic domain of RumA, whose structure is known, and which catalyses the formation of m5U in position 1939 of E. coli 23 S rRNA. We propose that the unusually high in vivo level of the TrmA-tRNA intermediate in wild-type cells may be due to a suboptimal cellular concentration of SAM, which is required to resolve this intermediate. Our results are consistent with the modular evolution of RNA(m5U)methyltransferases, in which the specificity of the enzymatic reaction is achieved by combining the conserved catalytic domain with different RNA-binding domains.
PMCID: PMC1904294  PMID: 17459887

Results 1-25 (640118)