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1.  2′-O-ribose methylation of cap2 in human: function and evolution in a horizontally mobile family 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;39(11):4756-4768.
The 5′ cap of human messenger RNA consists of an inverted 7-methylguanosine linked to the first transcribed nucleotide by a unique 5′–5′ triphosphate bond followed by 2′-O-ribose methylation of the first and often the second transcribed nucleotides, likely serving to modify efficiency of transcript processing, translation and stability. We report the validation of a human enzyme that methylates the ribose of the second transcribed nucleotide encoded by FTSJD1, henceforth renamed HMTR2 to reflect function. Purified recombinant hMTr2 protein transfers a methyl group from S-adenosylmethionine to the 2′-O-ribose of the second nucleotide of messenger RNA and small nuclear RNA. Neither N7 methylation of the guanosine cap nor 2′-O-ribose methylation of the first transcribed nucleotide are required for hMTr2, but the presence of cap1 methylation increases hMTr2 activity. The hMTr2 protein is distributed throughout the nucleus and cytosol, in contrast to the nuclear hMTr1. The details of how and why specific transcripts undergo modification with these ribose methylations remains to be elucidated. The 2′-O-ribose RNA cap methyltransferases are present in varying combinations in most eukaryotic and many viral genomes. With the capping enzymes in hand their biological purpose can be ascertained.
PMCID: PMC3113572  PMID: 21310715
2.  Hypermethylated cap 4 maximizes Trypanosoma brucei translation 
Molecular microbiology  2009;72(5):1100-1110.
Through trans-splicing of a 39-nt Spliced Leader (SL) onto each protein-coding transcript, mature kinetoplastid mRNA acquire a hypermethylated 5′-cap structure, but its function has been unclear. Gene deletions for three Trypanosoma brucei cap 2′-O-ribose methyltransferases, TbMTr1, TbMTr2, and TbMTr3, reveal distinct roles for four 2′-O-methylated nucleotides. Elimination of individual gene pairs yields viable cells, however attempts at double knockouts resulted in the generation of a TbMTr2−/−/TbMTr3−/− cell line only. Absence of both kinetoplastid-specific enzymes in TbMTr2−/−/TbMTr3−/− lines yielded substrate SL RNA and mRNA with cap 1. TbMTr1−/− translation is comparable to wildtype, while cap 3 and cap 4 loss reduced translation rates, exacerbated by the additional loss of cap 2. TbMTr1−/− and TbMTr2−/−/TbMTr3−/− lines grow to lower densities under normal culture conditions relative to wildtype cells, with growth rate differences apparent under low serum conditions. Cell viability may not tolerate delays at both the nucleolar Sm-independent and nucleoplasmic Sm-dependent stages of SL RNA maturation combined with reduced rates of translation. A minimal level of mRNA cap ribose methylation is essential for trypanosome viability, providing the first functional role for the cap 4.
PMCID: PMC2859698  PMID: 19504740
gene knockout; methyltransferase; ribose 2′-O-methylation; SL RNA; spliced leader; trans-splicing
3.  Trypanosoma brucei Spliced Leader RNA Maturation by the Cap 1 2′-O-Ribose Methyltransferase and SLA1 H/ACA snoRNA Pseudouridine Synthase Complex ▿ ‡  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2008;29(5):1202-1211.
Kinetoplastid flagellates attach a 39-nucleotide spliced leader (SL) upstream of protein-coding regions in polycistronic RNA precursors through trans splicing. SL modifications include cap 2′-O-ribose methylation of the first four nucleotides and pseudouridine (ψ) formation at uracil 28. In Trypanosoma brucei, TbMTr1 performs 2′-O-ribose methylation of the first transcribed nucleotide, or cap 1. We report the characterization of an SL RNA processing complex with TbMTr1 and the SLA1 H/ACA small nucleolar ribonucleoprotein (snoRNP) particle that guides SL ψ28 formation. TbMTr1 is in a high-molecular-weight complex containing the four conserved core proteins of H/ACA snoRNPs, a kinetoplastid-specific protein designated methyltransferase-associated protein (TbMTAP), and the SLA1 snoRNA. TbMTAP-null lines are viable but have decreased SL RNA processing efficiency in cap methylation, 3′-end maturation, and ψ28 formation. TbMTAP is required for association between TbMTr1 and the SLA1 snoRNP but does not affect U1 small nuclear RNA methylation. A complex methylation profile in the mRNA population of TbMTAP-null lines indicates an additional effect on cap 4 methylations. The TbMTr1 complex specializes the SLA1 H/ACA snoRNP for efficient processing of multiple modifications on the SL RNA substrate.
PMCID: PMC2643836  PMID: 19103757
4.  The 2′-O-Ribose Methyltransferase for Cap 1 of Spliced Leader RNA and U1 Small Nuclear RNA in Trypanosoma brucei▿ †  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2007;27(17):6084-6092.
mRNA cap 1 2′-O-ribose methylation is a widespread modification that is implicated in processing, trafficking, and translational control in eukaryotic systems. The eukaryotic enzyme has yet to be identified. In kinetoplastid flagellates trans-splicing of spliced leader (SL) to polycistronic precursors conveys a hypermethylated cap 4, including a cap 0 m7G and seven additional methylations on the first 4 nucleotides, to all nuclear mRNAs. We report the first eukaryotic cap 1 2′-O-ribose methyltransferase, TbMTr1, a member of a conserved family of viral and eukaryotic enzymes. Recombinant TbMTr1 methylates the ribose of the first nucleotide of an m7G-capped substrate. Knockdowns and null mutants of TbMTr1 in Trypanosoma brucei grow normally, with loss of 2′-O-ribose methylation at cap 1 on substrate SL RNA and U1 small nuclear RNA. TbMTr1-null cells have an accumulation of cap 0 substrate without further methylation, while spliced mRNA is modified efficiently at position 4 in the absence of 2′-O-ribose methylation at position 1; downstream cap 4 methylations are independent of cap 1. Based on TbMTr1-green fluorescent protein localization, 2′-O-ribose methylation at position 1 occurs in the nucleus. Accumulation of 3′-extended SL RNA substrate indicates a delay in processing and suggests a synergistic role for cap 1 in maturation.
PMCID: PMC1952150  PMID: 17606627
5.  Complete Cap 4 Formation Is Not Required for Viability in Trypanosoma brucei†  
Eukaryotic Cell  2006;5(6):905-915.
In kinetoplastids spliced leader (SL) RNA is trans-spliced onto the 5′ ends of all nuclear mRNAs, providing a universal exon with a unique cap. Mature SL contains an m7G cap, ribose 2′-O methylations on the first four nucleotides, and base methylations on nucleotides 1 and 4 (AACU). This structure is referred to as cap 4. Mutagenized SL RNAs that exhibit reduced cap 4 are trans-spliced, but these mRNAs do not associate with polysomes, suggesting a direct role in translation for cap 4, the primary SL sequence, or both. To separate SL RNA sequence alterations from cap 4 maturation, we have examined two ribose 2′-O-methyltransferases in Trypanosoma brucei. Both enzymes fall into the Rossmann fold class of methyltransferases and model into a conserved structure based on vaccinia virus homolog VP39. Knockdown of the methyltransferases individually or in combination did not affect growth rates and suggests a temporal placement in the cap 4 formation cascade: TbMT417 modifies A2 and is not required for subsequent steps; TbMT511 methylates C3, without which U4 methylations are reduced. Incomplete cap 4 maturation was reflected in substrate SL and mRNA populations. Recombinant methyltransferases bind to a methyl donor and show preference for m7G-capped RNAs in vitro. Both enzymes reside in the nucleoplasm. Based on the cap phenotype of substrate SL stranded in the cytosol, A2, C3, and U4 methylations are added after nuclear reimport of Sm protein-complexed substrate SL RNA. As mature cap 4 is dispensable for translation, cap 1 modifications and/or SL sequences are implicated in ribosomal interaction.
PMCID: PMC1489268  PMID: 16757738

Results 1-5 (5)