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Structural alterations of the tRNA(m1G37)methyltransferase from Salmonella typhimurium affect tRNA substrate specificity

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 March 1999

Department of Microbiology, Umeå University, S-901 87 Umeå, Sweden
Department of Microbiology, Umeå University, S-901 87 Umeå, Sweden
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In Salmonella typhimurium, the tRNA(m1G37)methyltransferase (the product of the trmD gene) catalyzes the formation of m1G37, which is present adjacent and 3′ of the anticodon (position 37) in seven tRNA species, two of which are tRNACGGPro and tRNAGGGPro. These two tRNA species also exist as +1 frameshift suppressor sufA6 and sufB2, respectively, both having an extra G in the anticodon loop next to and 3′ of m1G37. The wild-type form of the tRNA(m1G37)methyltransferase efficiently methylates these mutant tRNAs. We have characterized one class of mutant forms of the tRNA(m1G37)methyltransferase that does not methylate the sufA6 tRNA and thereby induce extensive frameshifting resulting in a nonviable cell. Accordingly, pseudorevertants of strains containing such a mutated trmD allele in conjunction with the sufA6 allele had reduced frameshifting activity caused by either a 9-nt duplication in the sufA6 tRNA or a deletion of its structural gene, or by an increased level of m1G37 in the sufA6 tRNA. However, the sufB2 tRNA as well as the wild-type counterparts of these two tRNAs are efficiently methylated by this class of structural altered tRNA(m1G37)methyltransferase. Two other mutations (trmD3, trmD10) were found to reduce the methylation of all potential tRNA substrates and therefore primarily affect the catalytic activity of the enzyme. We conclude that all mutations except two (trmD3 and trmD10) do not primarily affect the catalytic activity, but rather the substrate specificity of the tRNA, because, unlike the wild-type form of the enzyme, they recognize and methylate the wild-type but not an altered form of a tRNA. Moreover, we show that the TrmD peptide is present in catalytic excess in the cell.

Research Article
RNA , Volume 5 , Issue 3 , March 1999 , pp. 395 - 408
1999 RNA Society

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