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RNA. 2012 Sep;18(9):1687-701. doi: 10.1261/rna.032029.111. Epub 2012 Jul 30.

Recognition of guanosine by dissimilar tRNA methyltransferases.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA.


Guanosines are important for biological activities through their specific functional groups that are recognized for RNA or protein interactions. One example is recognition of N(1) of G37 in tRNA by S-adenosyl-methionine (AdoMet)-dependent tRNA methyltransferases to synthesize m(1)G37-tRNA, which is essential for translational fidelity in all biological domains. Synthesis of m(1)G37-tRNA is catalyzed by TrmD in bacteria and by Trm5 in eukarya and archaea, using unrelated and dissimilar structural folds. This raises the question of how dissimilar proteins recognize the same guanosine. Here we probe the mechanism of discrimination among functional groups of guanosine by TrmD and Trm5. Guanosine analogs were systematically introduced into tRNA through a combination of chemical and enzymatic synthesis. Single turnover kinetic assays and thermodynamic analysis of the effect of each analog on m(1)G37-tRNA synthesis reveal that TrmD and Trm5 discriminate functional groups differently. While both recognize N(1) and O(6) of G37, TrmD places a much stronger emphasis on these functional groups than Trm5. While the exocyclic 2-amino group of G37 is important for TrmD, it is dispensable for Trm5. In addition, while an adjacent G36 is obligatory for TrmD, it is nonessential for Trm5. These results depict a more rigid requirement of guanosine functional groups for TrmD than for Trm5. However, the sensitivity of both enzymes to analog substitutions, together with an experimental revelation of their low cellular concentrations relative to tRNA substrates, suggests a model in which these enzymes rapidly screen tRNA by direct recognition of G37 in order to monitor the global state of m(1)G37-tRNA.

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