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RNA. 2017 Mar;23(3):406-419. doi: 10.1261/rna.059667.116. Epub 2016 Dec 21.

S. cerevisiae Trm140 has two recognition modes for 3-methylcytidine modification of the anticodon loop of tRNA substrates.

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Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Center for RNA Biology, University of Rochester School of Medicine, Rochester, New York 14642, USA.


The 3-methylcytidine (m3C) modification is ubiquitous in eukaryotic tRNA, widely found at C32 in the anticodon loop of tRNAThr, tRNASer, and some tRNAArg species, as well as in the variable loop (V-loop) of certain tRNASer species. In the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, formation of m3C32 requires Trm140 for six tRNA substrates, including three tRNAThr species and three tRNASer species, whereas in Schizosaccharomyces pombe, two Trm140 homologs are used, one for tRNAThr and one for tRNASer The occurrence of a single Trm140 homolog is conserved broadly among Ascomycota, whereas multiple Trm140-related homologs are found in metazoans and other fungi. We investigate here how S. cerevisiae Trm140 protein recognizes its six tRNA substrates. We show that Trm140 has two modes of tRNA substrate recognition. Trm140 recognizes G35-U36-t6A37 of the anticodon loop of tRNAThr substrates, and this sequence is an identity element because it can be used to direct m3C modification of tRNAPhe However, Trm140 recognition of tRNASer substrates is different, since their anticodons do not share G35-U36 and do not have any nucleotides in common. Rather, specificity of Trm140 for tRNASer is achieved by seryl-tRNA synthetase and the distinctive tRNASer V-loop, as well as by t6A37 and i6A37 We provide evidence that all of these components are important in vivo and that seryl-tRNA synthetase greatly stimulates m3C modification of tRNASer(CGA) and tRNASer(UGA) in vitro. In addition, our results show that Trm140 binding is a significant driving force for tRNA modification and suggest separate contributions from each recognition element for the modification.


3-methylcytidine; anticodon loop; methyltransferase; modification; specificity; tRNA

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