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RNA. 2005 Nov;11(11):1648-54.

The Kluyveromyces lactis gamma-toxin targets tRNA anticodons.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biology, Umeå University, Sweden.


Kluyveromyces lactis killer strains secrete a heterotrimeric toxin (zymocin), which causes an irreversible growth arrest of sensitive yeast cells. Despite many efforts, the target(s) of the cytotoxic gamma-subunit of zymocin has remained elusive. Here we show that three tRNA species tRNA(Glu)(mcm(5)s(2)UUC), tRNA(Lys)(mcm(5)s(2)UUU), and tRNA(Gln)(mcm(5)s(2)UUG) are the targets of gamma-toxin. The toxin inhibits growth by cleaving these tRNAs at the 3' side of the modified wobble nucleoside 5-methoxycarbonylmethyl-2-thiouridine (mcm(5)s(2)U). Transfer RNA lacking a part of or the entire mcm(5) group is inefficiently cleaved by gamma-toxin, explaining the gamma-toxin resistance of the modification-deficient trm9, elp1-elp6, and kti11-kti13 mutants. The K. lactis gamma-toxin is the first eukaryotic toxin shown to target tRNA.

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