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Biochem J. 2003 Jun 1;372(Pt 2):595-602.

Caenorhabditis elegans pseudouridine synthase 1 activity in vivo: tRNA is a substrate, but not U2 small nuclear RNA.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Microbiology, University of South Carolina, School of Medicine, Columbia 29208, USA. patton@med.sc.edu

Abstract

The formation of pseudouridine (Psi) from uridine is post-transcriptional and catalysed by pseudouridine synthases, several of which have been characterized from eukaryotes. Pseudouridine synthase 1 (Pus1p) has been well characterized from yeast and mice. In yeast, Pus1p has been shown to have dual substrate specificity, modifying uridines in tRNAs and at position 44 in U2 small nuclear RNA (U2 snRNA). In order to study the in vivo activity of a metazoan Pus1p, a knockout of the gene coding for the homologue of Pus1p in Caenorhabditis elegans was obtained. The deletion encompasses the first two putative exons and includes the essential aspartate that is required for activity in truA pseudouridine synthases. The locations of most modified nucleotides on small RNAs in C. elegans are not known, and the positions of Psi were determined on four tRNAs and U2 snRNA. The uridine at position 27 of tRNA(Val) (AAC), a putative Pus1p-modification site, was converted into Psi in the wild-type worms, but the tRNA(Val) (AAC) from mutant worms lacked the modification. Psi formation at positions 13, 32, 38 and 39, all of which should be modified by other pseudouridine synthases, was not affected by the loss of Pus1p. The absence of Pus1p in C. elegans had no effect on the modification of U2 snRNA in vivo, even though worm U2 snRNA has a Psi at position 45 (the equivalent of yeast U2 snRNA position 44) and at four other positions. This result was unexpected, given the known dual specificity of yeast Pus1p.

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