Trans-translation exposed: understanding the structures and functions of tmRNA-SmpB.
ABSTRACT: Ribosome stalling is a serious issue for cell survival. In bacteria, the primary rescue system is trans-translation, performed by tmRNA and its protein partner small protein B (SmpB). Since its discovery almost 20 years ago, biochemical, genetic, and structural studies have paved the way to a better understanding of how this sophisticated process takes place at the cellular and molecular levels. Here we describe the molecular details of trans-translation, with special mention of recent cryo-electron microscopy and crystal structures that have helped explain how the huge tmRNA-SmpB complex targets and delivers stalled ribosomes without interfering with canonical translation.
Project description:Small protein B (SmpB) is a requisite component of the transfer messenger RNA (tmRNA)-mediated bacterial translational quality control system known as trans-translation. The initial binding of tmRNA and its subsequent accommodation into the ribosomal A-site are activities intimately linked to SmpB protein function. From a mechanistic perspective, two key unanswered questions that require further investigation are: 1) what constitutes a stalled ribosome recognition complex and 2) does SmpB pre-bind ribosomes to recruit tmRNA. We have assessed, both in vivo and in vitro, the nature and stability of free SmpB interactions with stalled ribosomes and examined whether these interactions are functionally relevant. We present evidence to demonstrate that interaction of free SmpB with ribosomes is salt sensitive and significantly more labile than interaction of the SmpB.tmRNA complex with ribosomes. Upon dissociation of 70 S ribosomes SmpB partitions primarily with tmRNA rather than ribosomal subunits. This finding is consistent with biochemical and structural data demonstrating that tmRNA is the high-affinity binding partner of SmpB. Moreover, we show that under normal physiological conditions roughly similar numbers of SmpB and tmRNA molecules are present in cells. Our investigations also reveal that upon induction of a nonstop mRNA, SmpB is enriched in stalled ribosome fractions only in the presence of tmRNA. Based on these findings, we conclude that SmpB does not pre-bind stalled ribosome and that functional SmpB-stalled ribosome interactions require tmRNA. We propose that a 1:1:1 complex of SmpB.tmRNA.EF-Tu(GTP) recognizes and binds a stalled ribosome to initiate trans-translation.
Project description:Ribosomes mediate protein synthesis by decoding the information carried by messenger RNAs (mRNAs) and catalysing peptide bond formation between amino acids. When bacterial ribosomes stall on incomplete messages, the trans-translation quality control mechanism is activated by the transfer-messenger RNA bound to small protein B (tmRNA-SmpB ribonucleoprotein complex). Trans-translation liberates the stalled ribosomes and triggers degradation of the incomplete proteins. Here, we present the cryo-electron microscopy structures of tmRNA-SmpB accommodated or translocated into stalled ribosomes. Two atomic models for each state are proposed. This study reveals how tmRNA-SmpB crosses the ribosome and how, as the problematic mRNA is ejected, the tmRNA resume codon is placed onto the ribosomal decoding site by new contacts between SmpB and the nucleotides upstream of the tag-encoding sequence. This provides a structural basis for the transit of the large tmRNA-SmpB complex through the ribosome and for the means by which the tmRNA internal frame is set for translation to resume.
Project description:In bacteria, stalled ribosomes are recycled by a hybrid transfer-messenger RNA (tmRNA). Like tRNA, tmRNA is aminoacylated with alanine and is delivered to the ribosome by EF-Tu, where it reacts with the growing polypeptide chain. tmRNA entry into stalled ribosomes poses a challenge to our understanding of ribosome function because it occurs in the absence of a codon-anticodon interaction. Instead, tmRNA entry is licensed by the binding of its protein partner, SmpB, to the ribosomal decoding center. We analyzed a series of SmpB mutants and found that its C-terminal tail is essential for tmRNA accommodation but not for EF-Tu activation. We obtained evidence that the tail likely functions as a helix on the ribosome to promote accommodation and identified key residues in the tail essential for this step. In addition, our mutational analysis points to a role for the conserved K(131)GKK tail residues in trans-translation after peptidyl transfer to tmRNA, presumably EF-G-mediated translocation or translation of the tmRNA template. Surprisingly, analysis of A1492, A1493, and G530 mutants reveals that while these ribosomal nucleotides are essential for normal tRNA selection, they play little to no role in peptidyl transfer to tmRNA. These studies clarify how SmpB interacts with the ribosomal decoding center to license tmRNA entry into stalled ribosomes.
Project description:Ribosomes stalled on problematic mRNAs in bacterial cells can be rescued by transfer-messenger RNA (tmRNA), its helper protein (small protein B, SmpB), and elongation factor Tu (EF-Tu) through a mechanism called trans-translation. In this work we used lead(II) footprinting to probe the interactions of tmRNA with SmpB and other components of the translation machinery at different steps of the trans-translation cycle. Ribosomes with a short nascent peptide stalled on a truncated mRNA were reacted with Ala-tmRNA*EF-Tu*GTP, SmpB, and other translation components to initiate and execute trans-translation. Free tmRNA was probed with lead(II) acetate with and without SmpB, and ribosome bound tmRNA was probed in one of four different trans-translation states stabilized by antibiotic addition or selective exclusion of translation components. For comparison, we also analyzed lead(II) cleavage patterns of tmRNA in vivo in a wild-type as well as in an SmpB-deficient Escherichia coli strain. We observed some specific cleavages/protections in tmRNA for the individual steps of trans-translation, but the overall tmRNA conformation appeared to be similar in the stages analyzed. Our findings suggest that, in vivo, a dominant fraction of tmRNA is in complex with SmpB and that, in vitro, SmpB remains tmRNA bound at the initial steps of trans-translation.
Project description:During trans-translation, transfer-messenger RNA (tmRNA) and small protein B (SmpB) together rescue ribosomes stalled on a truncated mRNA and tag the nascent polypeptide for degradation. We used cryo-electron microscopy to determine the structures of three key states of the tmRNA-SmpB-ribosome complex during trans translation at resolutions of 3.7 to 4.4 angstroms. The results show how tmRNA and SmpB act specifically on stalled ribosomes and how the circularized complex moves through the ribosome, enabling translation to switch from the old defective message to the reading frame on tmRNA.
Project description:trans-Translation, orchestrated by SmpB and tmRNA, is the principal eubacterial pathway for resolving stalled translation complexes. RNase R, the leading nonstop mRNA surveillance factor, is recruited to stalled ribosomes in a trans-translation dependent process. To elucidate the contributions of SmpB and tmRNA to RNase R recruitment, we evaluated Escherichia coli-Francisella tularensis chimeric variants of tmRNA and SmpB. This evaluation showed that while the hybrid tmRNA supported nascent polypeptide tagging and ribosome rescue, it suffered defects in facilitating RNase R recruitment to stalled ribosomes. To gain further insights, we used established tmRNA and SmpB variants that impact distinct stages of the trans-translation process. Analysis of select tmRNA variants revealed that the sequence composition and positioning of the ultimate and penultimate codons of the tmRNA ORF play a crucial role in recruiting RNase R to rescued ribosomes. Evaluation of defined SmpB C-terminal tail variants highlighted the importance of establishing the tmRNA reading frame, and provided valuable clues into the timing of RNase R recruitment to rescued ribosomes. Taken together, these studies demonstrate that productive RNase R-ribosomes engagement requires active trans-translation, and suggest that RNase R captures the emerging nonstop mRNA at an early stage after establishment of the tmRNA ORF as the surrogate mRNA template.
Project description:In bacteria, ribosomes stalled at the end of truncated messages are rescued by transfer-messenger RNA (tmRNA), a bifunctional molecule that acts as both a transfer RNA (tRNA) and a messenger RNA (mRNA), and SmpB, a small protein that works in concert with tmRNA. Here, we present the crystal structure of a tmRNA fragment, SmpB and elongation factor Tu bound to the ribosome at 3.2 angstroms resolution. The structure shows how SmpB plays the role of both the anticodon loop of tRNA and portions of mRNA to facilitate decoding in the absence of an mRNA codon in the A site of the ribosome and explains why the tmRNA-SmpB system does not interfere with normal translation.
Project description:Unproductive ribosome stalling in eubacteria is resolved by the actions of SmpB protein and transfer messenger (tm) RNA. We examined the functional significance of conserved regions of SmpB and tmRNA to the trans-translation process. Our investigations reveal that the N-terminal 20 residues of SmpB, which are located near the ribosomal decoding center, are dispensable for all known SmpB activities. In contrast, a set of conserved residues that reside at the junction between the tmRNA-binding core and the C-terminal tail of SmpB play an important role in tmRNA accommodation. Our data suggest that the highly conserved glycine 132 acts as a flexible hinge that enables movement of the C-terminal tail, thus permitting proper positioning and establishment of the tmRNA open reading frame (ORF) as the surrogate template. To gain further insights into the function of the SmpB C-terminal tail, we examined the tagging activity of hybrid variants of tmRNA and the SmpB protein, in which the tmRNA ORF or the SmpB C-terminal tail was substituted with the equivalent but highly divergent sequences from Francisella tularensis. We observed that the hybrid tmRNA was active but resulted in less accurate selection of the resume codon. Cognate hybrid SmpB was necessary to restore activity. Furthermore, accurate tagging was observed when the identity of the resume codon was reverted from GGC to GCA. Taken together, these data suggest that the engagement of the tmRNA ORF and the selection of the correct translation resumption point are distinct activities that are influenced by independent tmRNA and SmpB determinants.
Project description:TmRNA is an abundant RNA in bacteria with tRNA and mRNA features. It is specialized in trans-translation, a translation rescuing system. We demonstrate that its partner protein SmpB binds the tRNA-like region (TLD) in vivo and chaperones the fold of the TLD-H2 region. We use an original approach combining the observation of tmRNA degradation pathways in a heterologous system, the analysis of the tmRNA digests by MS and NMR, and co-overproduction assays of tmRNA and SmpB. We study the conformation in solution of tmRNA alone or in complex with one SmpB before ribosome binding using SAXS. Our data show that Mg(2+) drives compaction of the RNA structure and that, in the absence of Mg(2+), SmpB has a similar effect albeit to a lesser extent. Our results show that tmRNA is intrinsically structured in solution with identical topology to that observed on complexes on ribosomes which should facilitate its subsequent recruitment by the 70S ribosome, free or preloaded with one SmpB molecule.
Project description:In eubacteria, translation of defective messenger RNAs (mRNAs) produces truncated polypeptides that stall on the ribosome. A quality control mechanism referred to as trans-translation is performed by transfer-messenger RNA (tmRNA), a specialized RNA acting as both a tRNA and an mRNA, associated with small protein B (SmpB). So far, a clear view of the structural movements of both the protein and RNA necessary to perform accommodation is still lacking. By using a construct containing the tRNA-like domain as well as the extended helix H2 of tmRNA, we present a cryo-electron microscopy study of the process of accommodation. The structure suggests how tmRNA and SmpB move into the ribosome decoding site after the release of EF-Tu.GDP. While two SmpB molecules are bound per ribosome in a preaccommodated state, our results show that during accommodation the SmpB protein interacting with the small subunit decoding site stays in place while the one interacting with the large subunit moves away. Relative to canonical translation, an additional movement is observed due to the rotation of H2. This suggests that the larger movement required to resume translation on a tmRNA internal open reading frame starts during accommodation.