The 5′-cap structure is a distinct feature of eukaryotic mRNAs, and eukaryotic viruses generally modify the 5′-end of viral RNAs to mimic cellular mRNA structure, which is important for RNA stability, protein translation and viral immune escape. SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV) encodes two S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAM)-dependent methyltransferases (MTase) which sequentially methylate the RNA cap at guanosine-N7 and ribose 2′-O positions, catalyzed by nsp14 N7-MTase and nsp16 2′-O-MTase, respectively. A unique feature for SARS-CoV is that nsp16 requires non-structural protein nsp10 as a stimulatory factor to execute its MTase activity. Here we report the biochemical characterization of SARS-CoV 2′-O-MTase and the crystal structure of nsp16/nsp10 complex bound with methyl donor SAM. We found that SARS-CoV nsp16 MTase methylated m7GpppA-RNA but not m7GpppG-RNA, which is in contrast with nsp14 MTase that functions in a sequence-independent manner. We demonstrated that nsp10 is required for nsp16 to bind both m7GpppA-RNA substrate and SAM cofactor. Structural analysis revealed that nsp16 possesses the canonical scaffold of MTase and associates with nsp10 at 1∶1 ratio. The structure of the nsp16/nsp10 interaction interface shows that nsp10 may stabilize the SAM-binding pocket and extend the substrate RNA-binding groove of nsp16, consistent with the findings in biochemical assays. These results suggest that nsp16/nsp10 interface may represent a better drug target than the viral MTase active site for developing highly specific anti-coronavirus drugs.
The distinctive feature of eukaryotic mRNAs is the presence of methylated cap structure that is required for mRNA stability and protein translation. As all viruses employ cellular ribosomes for protein translation, most cytoplasmically replicating eukaryotic viruses including coronaviruses have evolved strategies to cap their RNAs. It was shown very recently that ribose 2′-O-methylation in the cap structure of viral RNAs plays an important role in viral escape from innate immune recognition. The 2′-O-methyltransferase (2′-O-MTase) encoded by SARS coronavirus is composed of two subunits, the catalytic subunit nsp16 and the stimulatory subunit nsp10, which is different from all other known 2′-O-MTases that are partner-independent. Here we show that the role of nsp10 is to promote nsp16 to bind capped RNA substrate and the methyl donor S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAM). We solved the crystal structure of the nsp16/nsp10/SAM complex, and the structural analysis revealed that the details of the inter-molecular interactions and indicated that nsp10 may stabilize the SAM-binding pocket and extend the capped RNA-binding groove. The interaction interface of nsp16/nsp10 is unique for coronaviruses and thus may provide an attractive target for developing specific antiviral drugs for control of coronaviruses including the deadly SARS coronavirus.
Twenty AdoMet-dependent methyltransferases (MTases) have been
characterized structurally by X-ray crystallography and NMR. These
include seven DNA MTases, five RNA MTases, four protein MTases and four
small molecule MTases acting on the carbon, oxygen or nitrogen atoms
of their substrates. The MTases share a common core structure of
a mixed seven-stranded β-sheet (6↓ 7↑ 5↓ 4↓ 1↓ 2↓ 3↓) referred to as an ‘AdoMet-dependent
MTase fold’, with the exception of a protein arginine MTase
which contains a compact consensus fold lacking the antiparallel
hairpin strands (6↓ 7↑).
The consensus fold is useful to identify hypothetical MTases during structural
proteomics efforts on unannotated proteins. The same core structure
works for very different classes of MTase including those that act
on substrates differing in size from small molecules (catechol or
glycine) to macromolecules (DNA, RNA and protein). DNA MTases use
a ‘base flipping’ mechanism to deliver a specific
base within a DNA molecule into a typically concave catalytic pocket. Base
flipping involves rotation of backbone bonds in double-stranded
DNA to expose an out-of-stack nucleotide, which can then be a substrate
for an enzyme-catalyzed chemical reaction. The phenomenon is fully
established for DNA MTases and for DNA base excision repair enzymes,
and is likely to prove general for enzymes that require access to
unpaired, mismatched or damaged nucleotides within base-paired regions
in DNA and RNA. Several newly discovered MTase families in eukaryotes
(DNA 5mC MTases and protein arginine and lysine MTases) offer new challenges
in the MTase field.
SARS-coronavirus (SARS-CoV) genome expression depends on the synthesis of a set of mRNAs, which presumably are capped at their 5′ end and direct the synthesis of all viral proteins in the infected cell. Sixteen viral non-structural proteins (nsp1 to nsp16) constitute an unusually large replicase complex, which includes two methyltransferases putatively involved in viral mRNA cap formation. The S-adenosyl-L-methionine (AdoMet)-dependent (guanine-N7)-methyltransferase (N7-MTase) activity was recently attributed to nsp14, whereas nsp16 has been predicted to be the AdoMet-dependent (nucleoside-2′O)-methyltransferase. Here, we have reconstituted complete SARS-CoV mRNA cap methylation in vitro. We show that mRNA cap methylation requires a third viral protein, nsp10, which acts as an essential trigger to complete RNA cap-1 formation. The obligate sequence of methylation events is initiated by nsp14, which first methylates capped RNA transcripts to generate cap-0 7MeGpppA-RNAs. The latter are then selectively 2′O-methylated by the 2′O-MTase nsp16 in complex with its activator nsp10 to give rise to cap-1 7MeGpppA2′OMe-RNAs. Furthermore, sensitive in vitro inhibition assays of both activities show that aurintricarboxylic acid, active in SARS-CoV infected cells, targets both MTases with IC50 values in the micromolar range, providing a validated basis for anti-coronavirus drug design.
In 2003, an emerging coronavirus (CoV) was identified as the etiological agent of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). SARS-CoV replicates and transcribes its large RNA genome using a membrane-bound enzyme complex containing a variety of viral nonstructural proteins. A critical step during RNA synthesis is the addition of a cap structure to the newly produced viral mRNAs, ensuring their efficient translation by host cell ribosomes. Viruses generally acquire their cap structure either from cellular mRNAs (e.g., “cap snatching” of influenza virus) or employ their own capping machinery, as is supposed to be the case for coronaviruses. mRNA caps synthesized by viruses are structurally and functionally undistinguishable from cellular mRNAs caps. In coronaviruses, methylation of mRNA caps seems to be essential, since mutations in viral methyltransferases nsp14 or nsp16 render non-viable virus. We have discovered an unexpected key role for SARS-CoV nsp10, a protein of previously unknown function, within mRNA cap methylation. Nsp10 induces selective 2′O-methylation of guanine-N7 methylated capped RNAs through direct activation of the otherwise inactive nsp16. This finding allows the full reconstitution of the SARS-CoV mRNA cap methylation sequence in vitro and opens the way to exploit the mRNA cap methyltransferases as targets for anti-coronavirus drug design.
S-adenosyl-l-methionine (AdoMet) dependent methyltransferases (MTases) are involved in biosynthesis, signal transduction, protein repair, chromatin regulation and gene silencing. Five different structural folds (I–V) have been described that bind AdoMet and catalyze methyltransfer to diverse substrates, although the great majority of known MTases have the Class I fold. Even within a particular MTase class the amino-acid sequence similarity can be as low as 10%. Thus, the structural and catalytic requirements for methyltransfer from AdoMet appear to be remarkably flexible.
Three structures of a putative RNA 5-methyluridine methyltransferase from T. thermophilus, including its complex with S-adenosyl-l-homocysteine, are presented. The structures reveal the mode of cofactor binding, architecture of the putative active site, and the presence of a deep cleft adjacent to the active site that may bind RNA.
The Thermus thermophilus hypothetical protein TTHA1280 belongs to a family of predicted S-adenosyl-l-methionine (AdoMet) dependent RNA methyltransferases (MTases) present in many bacterial and archaeal species. Inspection of amino-acid sequence motifs common to class I Rossmann-fold-like MTases suggested a specific role as an RNA 5-methyluridine MTase. Selenomethionine (SeMet) labelled and native versions of the protein were expressed, purified and crystallized. Two crystal forms of the SeMet-labelled apoprotein were obtained: SeMet-ApoI and SeMet-ApoII. Cocrystallization of the native protein with S-adenosyl-l-homocysteine (AdoHcy) yielded a third crystal form, Native-AdoHcy. The SeMet-ApoI structure was solved by the multiple anomalous dispersion method and refined at 2.55 Å resolution. The SeMet-ApoII and Native-AdoHcy structures were solved by molecular replacement and refined at 1.80 and 2.60 Å, respectively. TTHA1280 formed a homodimer in the crystals and in solution. Each subunit folds into a three-domain structure composed of a small N-terminal PUA domain, a central α/β-domain and a C-terminal Rossmann-fold-like MTase domain. The three domains form an overall clamp-like shape, with the putative active site facing a deep cleft. The architecture of the active site is consistent with specific recognition of uridine and catalysis of methyl transfer to the 5-carbon position. The cleft is suitable in size and charge distribution for binding single-stranded RNA.
PUA domain; RNA-modification enzyme; 5-methyluridine methyltransferase; S-adenosyl-l-homocysteine
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.
The coronavirus family of positive-strand RNA viruses includes important pathogens of livestock, companion animals, and humans, including the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus that was responsible for a worldwide outbreak in 2003. The unusually complex coronavirus replicase/transcriptase is comprised of 15 or 16 virus-specific subunits that are autoproteolytically derived from two large polyproteins. In line with bioinformatics predictions, we now show that feline coronavirus (FCoV) nonstructural protein 16 (nsp16) possesses an S-adenosyl-l-methionine (AdoMet)-dependent RNA (nucleoside-2′O)-methyltransferase (2′O-MTase) activity that is capable of cap-1 formation. Purified recombinant FCoV nsp16 selectively binds to short capped RNAs. Remarkably, an N7-methyl guanosine cap (7MeGpppAC3-6) is a prerequisite for binding. High-performance liquid chromatography analysis demonstrated that nsp16 mediates methyl transfer from AdoMet to the 2′O position of the first transcribed nucleotide, thus converting 7MeGpppAC3-6 into 7MeGpppA2′OMeC3-6. The characterization of 11 nsp16 mutants supported the previous identification of residues K45, D129, K169, and E202 as the putative K-D-K-E catalytic tetrad of the enzyme. Furthermore, residues Y29 and F173 of FCoV nsp16, which may be the functional counterparts of aromatic residues involved in substrate recognition by the vaccinia virus MTase VP39, were found to be essential for both substrate binding and 2′O-MTase activity. Finally, the weak inhibition profile of different AdoMet analogues indicates that nsp16 has evolved an atypical AdoMet binding site. Our results suggest that coronavirus mRNA carries a cap-1, onto which 2′O methylation follows an order of events in which 2′O-methyl transfer must be preceded by guanine N7 methylation, with the latter step being performed by a yet-unknown N7-specific MTase.
RlmM (YgdE) catalyzes the S-adenosyl methionine (AdoMet)-dependent 2′O methylation of C2498 in 23S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) of Escherichia coli. Previous experiments have shown that RlmM is active on 23S rRNA from an RlmM knockout strain but not on mature 50S subunits from the same strain. Here, we demonstrate RlmM methyltransferase (MTase) activity on in vitro transcribed 23S rRNA and its domain V. We have solved crystal structures of E. coli RlmM at 1.9 Å resolution and of an RlmM–AdoMet complex at 2.6 Å resolution. RlmM consists of an N-terminal THUMP domain and a C-terminal catalytic Rossmann-like fold MTase domain in a novel arrangement. The catalytic domain of RlmM is closely related to YiiB, TlyA and fibrillarins, with the second K of the catalytic tetrad KDKE shifted by two residues at the C-terminal end of a beta strand compared with most 2′O MTases. The AdoMet-binding site is open and shallow, suggesting that RNA substrate binding may be required to form a conformation needed for catalysis. A continuous surface of conserved positive charge indicates that RlmM uses one side of the two domains and the inter-domain linker to recognize its RNA substrate.
The flavivirus NS5 N-terminal RNA methyltransferase (MTase) enzyme is responsible for methylating the viral RNA cap structure. To increase our understanding of the mechanism of viral RNA cap binding we performed a detailed structural and biochemical characterization of guanosine cap binding pocket of the dengue (DEN) and yellow fever (YF) virus MTase enzymes. We solved an improved 2.1 Å resolution crystal structure of DEN2 MTase and new 1.5 Å resolution crystal structures of the YF virus MTase domain in apo form and new 1.45 Å structure in complex with GTP and RNA cap analog. Our structures clarify the previously reported DEN MTase structure, suggest novel protein–cap interactions, and provide a detailed view of guanine specificity. Furthermore, the structures of the DEN and YF proteins are essentially identical, indicating a large degree of structural conservation amongst the flavivirus MTases. GTP analog competition assays and mutagenesis analysis, performed to analyze the biochemical characteristics of cap binding, determined that the major interaction points are (i) guanine ring via π–π stacking with Phe24, N1 hydrogen interaction with the Leu19 backbone carbonyl via a water bridge, and C2 amine interaction with Leu16 and Leu19 backbone carbonyls, (ii) ribose 2′ hydroxyl interaction with Lys13 and Asn17, and (iii) α-phosphate interactions with Lys28 and Ser215. Based on our mutational and analog studies, the guanine ring and α-phosphate interactions provide most of the energy for cap binding, while the combination of the water bridge between the guanine N1 and Leu19 carbonyl and the hydrogen bonds between the C2 amine and Leu16/Leu19 carbonyl groups provide for specific guanine recognition. A detailed model of how the flavivirus MTase protein binds RNA cap structures is presented.
Flavivirus; NS5 Methyltransferase; RNA cap binding; Guanine recognition; Kd determination
Two methyltransferases from flaviviruses (Meaban and Yokose viruses) have been overexpressed and crystallized. Diffraction data and characterization of the two crystal forms are presented, together with a preliminary molecular-replacement solution for both enzymes.
Viral methyltranferases (MTase) are involved in the third step of the mRNA-capping process, transferring a methyl group from S-adenosyl-l-methionine (SAM) to the capped mRNA. MTases are classified into two groups: (guanine-N7)-methyltransferases (N7MTases), which add a methyl group onto the N7 atom of guanine, and (nucleoside-2′-O-)-methyltransferases (2′OMTases), which add a methyl group to a ribose hydroxyl. The MTases of two flaviviruses, Meaban and Yokose viruses, have been overexpressed, purified and crystallized in complex with SAM. Characterization of the crystals together with details of preliminary X-ray diffraction data collection (at 2.8 and 2.7 Å resolution, respectively) are reported here. The sequence homology relative to Dengue virus 2′OMTase and the structural conservation of specific residues in the putative active sites suggest that both enzymes belong to the 2′OMTase subgroup.
(nucleoside-2′-O-)-methyltransferases; flaviviruses; Meaban virus; Yokose virus
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.
DNA methyltransferases (MTases) are sequence-specific enzymes which transfer a methyl group from S-adenosyl-l-methionine (AdoMet) to the amino group of either cytosine or adenine within a recognized DNA sequence. Methylation of a base in a specific DNA sequence protects DNA from nucleolytic cleavage by restriction enzymes recognizing the same DNA sequence. We have determined at 1.74 Å resolution the crystal structure of a β-class DNA MTase MboIIA (M·MboIIA) from the bacterium Moraxella bovis, the smallest DNA MTase determined to date. M·MboIIA methylates the 3′ adenine of the pentanucleotide sequence 5′-GAAGA-3′. The protein crystallizes with two molecules in the asymmetric unit which we propose to resemble the dimer when M·MboIIA is not bound to DNA. The overall structure of the enzyme closely resembles that of M·RsrI. However, the cofactor-binding pocket in M·MboIIA forms a closed structure which is in contrast to the open-form structures of other known MTases.
The AcNPV orf69 gene encodes a protein that contains an S-adenosylmethionine (AdoMet)-dependent methyltransferase signature motif. More significantly, ORF69 shows high conservation at residues diagnostic for (nucleoside 2′-O)-methyltransferase activity. To analyze the function of this protein, which was renamed MTase1, it was overexpressed in Escherichia coli and purified to homogeneity. Photo cross-linking experiments showed that MTase1 bound AdoMet, and functional assays demonstrated cap 0-dependent methyltransferase activity. In vivo expression assays in insect cells showed that MTase1 was synthesized during the late phase of infection and that its expression was dependent on viral DNA replication. Primer extension analysis identified a late promoter motif, ATAAG, at the transcription start site. A mutant virus was constructed by inserting the lacZ gene into the coding region of mtase1. Immunoblot analysis confirmed that MTase1 was not synthesized in these cells, and single-step growth curves revealed that the rate of virus replication in tissue culture was not affected by the absence of MTase1.
DNA N4-cytosine methyltransferases (N4mC MTases) are a family of S-adenosyl-L-methionine (AdoMet)-dependent MTases. Members of this family were previously found to share nine conserved sequence motifs, but the evolutionary basis of these similarities has never been studied in detail. We performed phylogenetic analysis of 37 known and potential new family members from the multiple sequence alignment using distance matrix, parsimony and maximum likelihood approaches to infer the evolutionary relationship among the N4mC MTases and classify them into groups of orthologs. All the treeing algorithms employed as well as results of exhaustive sequence database searching support a scenario, in which the majority of N4mC MTases, except for M. Bal I and M. Bam HI, arose by divergence from a common ancestor. Interestingly, MTases M. Bal I and M. Bam HI apparently originated from N6-adenine MTases and represent the most recent addendum to the N4mC MTase family. In addition to the previously reported nine sequence motifs, two more conserved sequence patches were detected. Phylogenetic analysis also provided the evidence for massive horizontal transfer of MTase genes, presumably with the whole restriction-modification systems, between Bacteria and Archaea.
DNA methylation plays important roles via regulation of numerous cellular mechanisms in diverse organisms, including humans. The paradigm bacterial methyltransferase (MTase) HhaI (M.HhaI) catalyzes the transfer of a methyl group from the cofactor S-adenosyl-l-methionine (AdoMet) onto the target cytosine in DNA, yielding 5-methylcytosine and S-adenosyl-l-homocysteine (AdoHcy). The turnover rate (kcat) of M.HhaI, and the other two cytosine-5 MTases examined, is limited by a step subsequent to methyl transfer; however, no such step has so far been identified. To elucidate the role of cofactor interactions during catalysis, eight mutants of Trp41, which is located in the cofactor binding pocket, were constructed and characterized. The mutants show full proficiency in DNA binding and base-flipping, and little variation is observed in the apparent methyl transfer rate kchem as determined by rapid-quench experiments using immobilized fluorescent-labeled DNA. However, the Trp41 replacements with short side chains substantially perturb cofactor binding (100-fold higher KDAdoMet and KMAdoMet) leading to a faster turnover of the enzyme (10-fold higher kcat). Our analysis indicates that the rate-limiting breakdown of a long-lived ternary product complex is initiated by the dissociation of AdoHcy or the opening of the catalytic loop in the enzyme.
The N-terminal domain of the flavivirus NS5 protein functions as a methyltransferase (MTase). It sequentially methylates the N7 and 2′-O positions of the viral RNA cap structure (GpppA→7meGpppA→7meGpppA2′-O-me). The same NS5 domain could also have a guanylyltransferase activity (GTP+ppA-RNA→GpppA). The mechanism by which this protein domain catalyzes these three distinct functions is currently unknown. Here we report the crystallographic structure of DENV-3 MTase in complex with a 5′-capped RNA octamer (GpppAGAACCUG) at a resolution of 2.9 Å. Two RNA octamers arranged as kissing loops are encircled by four MTase monomers around a 2-fold non-crystallography symmetry axis. Only two of the four monomers make direct contact with the 5′ end of RNA. The RNA structure is stabilised by the formation of several intra and intermolecular base stacking and non-canonical base pairs. The structure may represent the product of guanylylation of the viral genome prior to the subsequent methylation events that require repositioning of the RNA substrate to reach to the methyl-donor sites. The crystal structure provides a structural explanation for the observed trans-complementation of MTases with different methylation defects.
During mRNA synthesis, the polymerase of vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) copies the genomic RNA to produce five capped and polyadenylated mRNAs with the 5′-terminal structure 7mGpppAmpApCpApGpNpNpApUpCp. The 5′ mRNA processing events are poorly understood but presumably require triphosphatase, guanylyltransferase, [guanine-N-7]- and [ribose-2′-O]-methyltransferase (MTase) activities. Consistent with a role in mRNA methylation, conserved domain VI of the 241-kDa large (L) polymerase protein shares sequence homology with a bacterial [ribose-2′-O]-MTase, FtsJ/RrmJ. In this report, we generated six L gene mutations to test this homology. Individual substitutions to the predicted MTase active-site residues K1651, D1762, K1795, and E1833 yielded viruses with pinpoint plaque morphologies and 10- to 1,000-fold replication defects in single-step growth assays. Consistent with these defects, viral RNA and protein synthesis was diminished. In contrast, alteration of residue G1674 predicted to bind the methyl donor S-adenosylmethionine did not significantly perturb viral growth and gene expression. Analysis of the mRNA cap structure revealed that alterations to the predicted active site residues decreased [guanine-N-7]- and [ribose-2′-O]-MTase activity below the limit of detection of our assay. In contrast, the alanine substitution at G1674 had no apparent consequence. These data show that the predicted MTase active-site residues K1651, D1762, K1795, and E1833 within domain VI of the VSV L protein are essential for mRNA cap methylation. A model of mRNA processing consistent with these data is presented.
The DNA methyltransferase of bacteriophage T4 (T4 Dam MTase) recognizes the palindromic sequence GATC, and catalyzes transfer of the methyl group from S-adenosyl-l-methionine (AdoMet) to the N6-position of adenine [generating N6-methyladenine and S-adenosyl-l-homocysteine (AdoHcy)]. Pre-steady state kinetic analysis revealed that the methylation rate constant kmeth for unmethylated and hemimethylated substrates (0.56 and 0.47 s–1, respectively) was at least 20-fold larger than the overall reaction rate constant kcat (0.023 s–1). This indicates that the release of products is the rate-limiting step in the reaction. Destabilization of the target-base pair did not alter the methylation rate, indicating that the rate of target nucleoside flipping does not limit kmeth. Preformed T4 Dam MTase–DNA complexes are less efficient than preformed T4 Dam MTase–AdoMet complexes in the first round of catalysis. Thus, this data is consistent with a preferred route of reaction for T4 Dam MTase in which AdoMet is bound first; this preferred reaction route is not observed with the DNA-[C5-cytosine]-MTases.
There are several evolutionarily unrelated and structurally dissimilar superfamilies of S-adenosylmethionine (AdoMet)-dependent methyltransferases (MTases). A new superfamily (SPOUT) has been recently characterized on a sequence level and three structures of its members (1gz0, 1ipa, and 1k3r) have been solved. However, none of these structures include the cofactor or the substrate. Due to the strong evolutionary divergence and the paucity of experimental information, no confident predictions of protein-ligand and protein-substrate interactions could be made, which hampered the study of sequence-structure-function relationships in the SPOUT superfamily.
We used the computational docking program AutoDock to identify the AdoMet-binding site on the surface of three MTase structures. We analyzed the sequence divergence in two distinct lineages of the SPOUT superfamily in the context of surface features and preferred cofactor binding mode to propose specific function for the conserved residues.
Our docking analysis has confidently predicted the common AdoMet-binding site in three remotely related proteins structures. In the vicinity of the cofactor-binding site, subfamily-conserved grooves were identified on the protein surface, suggesting location of the target-binding/catalytic site. Functionally important residues were inferred and a general reaction mechanism, involving conformational change of a glycine-rich loop, was proposed.
The gene prmC, encoding the putative S-adenosyl-l-methionine (AdoMet)-dependent methyltransferase (MTase) of release factors (RFs) of the obligate intracellular pathogen Chlamydia trachomatis, was functionally analyzed. Chlamydial PrmC expression suppresses the growth defect of a prmC knockout strain of Escherichia coli K-12, suggesting an interaction of chlamydial PrmC with E. coli RFs in vivo. In vivo methylation assays carried out with recombinant PrmC and RFs of chlamydial origin demonstrated that PrmC methylates RFs within the tryptic fragment containing the universally conserved sequence motif Gly-Gly-Gln. This is consistent with the enzymatic properties of PrmC of E. coli origin. We conclude that C. trachomatis PrmC functions as an N5-glutamine AdoMet-dependent MTase, involved in methylation of RFs.
Many flaviviruses are significant human pathogens. No effective antiviral therapy is currently available for treatment of flavivirus infections. Development of antiviral treatment against these viruses is urgently needed. The flavivirus methyltransferase (MTase) responsible for N-7 and 2'-O methylation of the viral RNA cap has recently been mapped to the N-terminal region of nonstructural protein 5. Structural and functional studies suggest that the MTase represents a novel antiviral target. Here we review current understanding of flavivirus RNA cap methylation and its implications for development of antivirals. The 5' end of the flavivirus plus-strand RNA genome contains a type 1 cap structure (m7GpppAmG). Flaviviruses encode a single MTase domain that catalyzes two sequential methylations of the viral RNA cap, GpppA-RNA→m7GpppA-RNA→m7GpppAm-RNA, using S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAM) as the methyl donor. The two reactions require different viral RNA elements and distinct biochemical assay conditions. Despite exhibiting two distinct methylation activities, flavivirus MTase contains a single binding site for SAM in its crystal structure. Therefore, substrate GpppA-RNA must be re-positioned to accept the N-7 and 2'-O methyl groups from SAM during the two methylation reactions. Structure-guided mutagenesis studies indeed revealed two distinct sets of amino acids on the enzyme surface that are specifically required for N-7 and 2'-O methylation. In the context of virus, West Nile viruses (WNV) defective in N-7 methylation are non-replicative; however, WNVs defective in 2'-O methylation are attenuated and can protect mice from subsequent wild-type WNV challenge. Collectively, the results demonstrate that the N-7 MTase represents a novel target for flavivirus therapy.
Flavivirus NS5; Methyltransferase; Flavivirus replication; Antiviral therapy; West Nile virus; dengue virus; yellow fever virus; Japanese encephalitis virus; tick-borne encephalitis virus
The DNA-[N 6-adenine]-methyltransferase (Dam MTase) of phage T4 catalyzes methyl group transfer from S-adenosyl-l-methionine (AdoMet) to the N6-position of adenine in the palindromic sequence, GATC. We have used a gel shift assay to monitor complex formation between T4 Dam and various synthetic duplex oligonucleotides, either native or modified/defective. The results are summarized as follows. (i) T4 Dam bound with approximately 100-fold higher affinity to a 20mer specific (GATC-containing) duplex containing the canonical palindromic methylation sequence, GATC, than to a non-specific duplex containing another palindrome, GTAC. (ii) Compared with the unmethylated duplex, the hemimethylated 20mer specific duplex had a slightly increased ( approximately 2-fold) ability to form complexes with T4 Dam. (iii) No stable complex was formed with a synthetic 12mer specific (GATC-containing) duplex, although T4 Dam can methylate it. This indicates that there is no relation between formation of a catalytically competent 12mer-Dam complex and one stable to gel electrophoresis. (iv) Formation of a stable complex did not require that both strands be contiguous or completely complementary. Absence of a single internucleotide phosphate strongly reduced complex formation only when missing between the T and C residues. This suggests that if T4 Dam makes critical contact(s) with a backbone phosphate(s), then the one between T and C is the only likely candidate. Having only one half of the recognition site intact on one strand was sufficient for stable complex formation provided that the 5'G.C base-pairs be present at both ends of the palindromic, GATC. Since absence of either a G or C abolished T4 Dam binding, we conclude that both strands are recognized by T4 Dam.
DNMT2 is a human protein that displays strong sequence similarities
to DNA (cytosine-5)-methyltransferases (m5C MTases) of
both prokaryotes and eukaryotes. DNMT2 contains all 10 sequence
motifs that are conserved among m5C MTases, including
the consensus S-adenosyl-l-methionine-binding
motifs and the active site ProCys dipeptide. DNMT2 has close homologs
in plants, insects and Schizosaccharomyces pombe,
but no related sequence can be found in the genomes of Saccharomyces
cerevisiae or Caenorhabditis elegans. The
crystal structure of a deletion mutant of DNMT2 complexed with S-adenosyl-l-homocysteine (AdoHcy)
has been determined at 1.8 Å resolution. The structure
of the large domain that contains the sequence motifs involved in
catalysis is remarkably similar to that of M.HhaI,
a confirmed bacterial m5C MTase, and the smaller target
recognition domains of DNMT2 and M.HhaI are also
closely related in overall structure. The small domain of DNMT2
contains three short helices that are not present in M.HhaI.
DNMT2 binds AdoHcy in the same conformation as confirmed m5C
MTases and, while DNMT2 shares all sequence and structural features with
m5C MTases, it has failed to demonstrate detectable transmethylase
activity. We show here that homologs of DNMT2, which are present
in some organisms that are not known to methylate their genomes,
contain a specific target-recognizing sequence motif including an
invariant CysPheThr tripeptide. DNMT2 binds DNA to form a denaturant-resistant
complex in vitro. While the biological function of
DNMT2 is not yet known, the strong binding to DNA suggests that
DNMT2 may mark specific sequences in the genome by binding to DNA
through the specific target-recognizing motif.
DNA methyltransferases catalyse the transfer of a methyl group from the ubiquitous cofactor S-adenosyl-L-methionine (AdoMet) onto specific target sites on DNA and play important roles in organisms from bacteria to humans. AdoMet analogs with extended propargylic side chains have been chemically produced for methyltransferase-directed transfer of activated groups (mTAG) onto DNA, although the efficiency of reactions with synthetic analogs remained low. We performed steric engineering of the cofactor pocket in a model DNA cytosine-5 methyltransferase (C5-MTase), M.HhaI, by systematic replacement of three non-essential positions, located in two conserved sequence motifs and in a variable region, with smaller residues. We found that double and triple replacements lead to a substantial improvement of the transalkylation activity, which manifests itself in a mild increase of cofactor binding affinity and a larger increase of the rate of alkyl transfer. These effects are accompanied with reduction of both the stability of the product DNA–M.HhaI–AdoHcy complex and the rate of methylation, permitting competitive mTAG labeling in the presence of AdoMet. Analogous replacements of two conserved residues in M.HpaII and M2.Eco31I also resulted in improved transalkylation activity attesting a general applicability of the homology-guided engineering to the C5-MTase family and expanding the repertoire of sequence-specific tools for covalent in vitro and ex vivo labeling of DNA.
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).