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Nucleic Acids Res. 2012 May;40(9):4071-85. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkr1287. Epub 2011 Dec 30.

Base methylations in the double-stranded RNA by a fused methyltransferase bearing unwinding activity.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry and Biotechnology, Graduate School of Engineering, University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8656, Japan.


Modifications of rRNAs are clustered in functional regions of the ribosome. In Helix 74 of Escherichia coli 23S rRNA, guanosines at positions 2069 and 2445 are modified to 7-methylguanosine(m(7)G) and N(2)-methylguanosine(m(2)G), respectively. We searched for the gene responsible for m(7)G2069 formation, and identified rlmL, which encodes the methyltransferase for m(2)G2445, as responsible for the biogenesis of m(7)G2069. In vitro methylation of rRNA revealed that rlmL encodes a fused methyltransferase responsible for forming both m(7)G2069 and m(2)G2445. We renamed the gene rlmKL. The N-terminal RlmL activity for m(2)G2445 formation was significantly enhanced by the C-terminal RlmK. Moreover, RlmKL had an unwinding activity of Helix 74, facilitating cooperative methylations of m(7)G2069 and m(2)G2445 during biogenesis of 50S subunit. In fact, we observed that RlmKL was involved in the efficient assembly of 50S subunit in a mutant strain lacking an RNA helicase deaD.

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