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A protein related to the vaccinia virus cap-specific methyltransferase VP39 is involved in cap 4 modification in Trypanosoma brucei.


ABSTRACT: The spliced-leader (SL) RNA plays a key role in the biogenesis of mRNA in trypanosomes by providing the m(7)G-capped SL sequence to the 5' end of every mRNA. The cap structure of the SL RNA is unique in eukaryotes with 4 nucleotides after the cap carrying a total of seven methyl groups and by convention is referred to as "cap 4". Although the enzymatic machinery for cap addition has been characterized in several organisms, including Trypanosoma brucei, the identification of methyltransferases dedicated to the generation of higher order cap structures has lagged behind, except in viruses. Here we describe T. brucei MT57 (TbMT57), a primarily nuclear polypeptide with structural and functional similarities to vaccinia virus VP39, a bifunctional protein acting at the mRNA 5' end as a cap-specific 2'-O-methyltransferase. Down-regulation by RNAi or genetic ablation of TbMT57 resulted in the accumulation of SL RNA missing 2'-O-methyl groups at positions +3 and +4 and thus bearing a cap 2 rather than a cap 4. Furthermore, competitive binding studies indicated that modifications at the +3 and +4 positions are important for binding to the nuclear cap-binding complex. Genetic ablation of MT57 resulted in viable cells with no apparent defect in SL RNA trans-splicing, suggesting that MT57 is not essential or that trypanosomes have developed alternate mechanisms to counteract the absence of this protein. Interestingly, MT57 homologs are only found in trypanosomatid protozoa that have a cap 4 structure and in poxviruses, of which vaccinia virus is a prototype.

SUBMITTER: Arhin GK 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC1370885 | BioStudies | 2006-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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