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Mol Cell Biol. 2013 Dec;33(24):4900-8. doi: 10.1128/MCB.01041-13. Epub 2013 Oct 14.

Human cells have a limited set of tRNA anticodon loop substrates of the tRNA isopentenyltransferase TRIT1 tumor suppressor.

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Intramural Research Program, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.


Human TRIT1 is a tRNA isopentenyltransferase (IPTase) homologue of Escherichia coli MiaA, Saccharomyces cerevisiae Mod5, Schizosaccharomyces pombe Tit1, and Caenorhabditis elegans GRO-1 that adds isopentenyl groups to adenosine 37 (i6A37) of substrate tRNAs. Prior studies indicate that i6A37 increases translation fidelity and efficiency in codon-specific ways. TRIT1 is a tumor suppressor whose mutant alleles are associated with cancer progression. We report the systematic identification of i6A37-containing tRNAs in a higher eukaryote, performed using small interfering RNA knockdown and other methods to examine TRIT1 activity in HeLa cells. Although several potential substrates contained the IPTase recognition sequence A36A37A38 in the anticodon loop, only tRNA(Ser)AGA, tRNA(Ser)CGA, tRNA(Ser)UGA, and selenocysteine tRNA with UCA (tRNA([Ser]Sec)UCA) contained i6A37. This subset is a significantly more restricted than that for two distant yeasts (S. cerevisiae and S. pombe), the only other organisms comprehensively examined. Unlike the fully i6A37-modified tRNAs for Ser, tRNA([Ser]Sec)UCA is partially (∼40%) modified. Exogenous selenium and other treatments that decreased the i6A37 content of tRNA([Ser]Sec)UCA led to increased levels of the tRNA([Ser]Sec)UCA. Of the human mitochondrion (mt)-encoded tRNAs with A36A37A38, only mt tRNAs tRNA(Ser)UGA and tRNA(Trp)UCA contained detectable i6A37. Moreover, while tRNA(Ser) levels were unaffected by TRIT1 knockdown, the tRNA([Ser]Sec)UCA level was increased and the mt tRNA(Ser)UGA level was decreased, suggesting that TRIT1 may control the levels of some tRNAs as well as their specific activity.

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