Format of Original
Public Library of Science
Original Item ID
Transfer RNAs are synthesized as a primary transcript that is processed to produce a mature tRNA. As part of the maturation process, a subset of the nucleosides are modified. Modifications in the anticodon region often modulate the decoding ability of the tRNA. At position 34, the majority of yeast cytosolic tRNA species that have a uridine are modified to 5-carbamoylmethyluridine (ncm5U), 5-carbamoylmethyl-2′-O-methyluridine (ncm5Um), 5-methoxycarbonylmethyl-uridine (mcm5U) or 5-methoxycarbonylmethyl-2-thiouridine (mcm5s2U). The formation of mcm5 and ncm5 side chains involves a complex pathway, where the last step in formation of mcm5 is a methyl esterification of cm5 dependent on the Trm9 and Trm112 proteins.
Methodology and Principal Findings
Both Trm9 and Trm112 are required for the last step in formation of mcm5 side chains at wobble uridines. By co-expressing a histidine-tagged Trm9p together with a native Trm112p in E. coli, these two proteins purified as a complex. The presence of Trm112p dramatically improves the methyltransferase activity of Trm9p in vitro. Single tRNA species that normally contain mcm5U or mcm5s2U nucleosides were isolated from trm9Δ or trm112Δ mutants and the presence of modified nucleosides was analyzed by HPLC. In both mutants, mcm5U and mcm5s2U nucleosides are absent in tRNAs and the major intermediates accumulating were ncm5U and ncm5s2U, not the expected cm5U and cm5s2U.
Trm9p and Trm112p function together at the final step in formation of mcm5U in tRNA by using the intermediate cm5U as a substrate. In tRNA isolated from trm9Δ and trm112Δ strains, ncm5U and ncm5s2U nucleosides accumulate, questioning the order of nucleoside intermediate formation of the mcm5 side chain. We propose two alternative explanations for this observation. One is that the intermediate cm5U is generated from ncm5U by a yet unknown mechanism and the other is that cm5U is formed before ncm5U and mcm5U.