The identity of the discriminator base has an impact on CCA addition.
ABSTRACT: CCA-adding enzymes synthesize and maintain the C-C-A sequence at the tRNA 3'-end, generating the attachment site for amino acids. While tRNAs are the most prominent substrates for this polymerase, CCA additions on non-tRNA transcripts are described as well. To identify general features for substrate requirement, a pool of randomized transcripts was incubated with the human CCA-adding enzyme. Most of the RNAs accepted for CCA addition carry an acceptor stem-like terminal structure, consistent with tRNA as the main substrate group for this enzyme. While these RNAs show no sequence conservation, the position upstream of the CCA end was in most cases represented by an adenosine residue. In tRNA, this position is described as discriminator base, an important identity element for correct aminoacylation. Mutational analysis of the impact of the discriminator identity on CCA addition revealed that purine bases (with a preference for adenosine) are strongly favoured over pyrimidines. Furthermore, depending on the tRNA context, a cytosine discriminator can cause a dramatic number of misincorporations during CCA addition. The data correlate with a high frequency of adenosine residues at the discriminator position observed in vivo. Originally identified as a prominent identity element for aminoacylation, this position represents a likewise important element for efficient and accurate CCA addition.
Project description:For flawless translation of mRNA sequence into protein, tRNAs must undergo a series of essential maturation steps to be properly recognized and aminoacylated by aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase, and subsequently utilized by the ribosome. While all tRNAs carry a 3'-terminal CCA sequence that includes the site of aminoacylation, the additional 5'-G-1 position is a unique feature of most histidine tRNA species, serving as an identity element for the corresponding synthetase. In eukaryotes including yeast, both 3'-CCA and 5'-G-1 are added post-transcriptionally by tRNA nucleotidyltransferase and tRNAHis guanylyltransferase, respectively. Hence, it is possible that these two cytosolic enzymes compete for the same tRNA. Here, we investigate substrate preferences associated with CCA and G-1-addition to yeast cytosolic tRNAHis, which might result in a temporal order to these important processing events. We show that tRNA nucleotidyltransferase accepts tRNAHis transcripts independent of the presence of G-1; however, tRNAHis guanylyltransferase clearly prefers a substrate carrying a CCA terminus. Although many tRNA maturation steps can occur in a rather random order, our data demonstrate a likely pathway where CCA-addition precedes G-1 incorporation in S. cerevisiae. Evidently, the 3'-CCA triplet and a discriminator position A73 act as positive elements for G-1 incorporation, ensuring the fidelity of G-1 addition.
Project description:Transcription of the mitochondrial genome results in polycistronic precursors, which are processed mainly by the release of tRNAs interspersed between rRNAs and mRNAs. In many metazoan mitochondrial genomes some tRNA genes overlap with downstream genes; in the case of human mitochondria the genes for tRNA(Tyr) and tRNA(Cys) overlap by one nucleotide. It has previously been shown that processing of the common precursor releases an incomplete tRNA(Tyr) lacking the 3'-adenosine. The 3'-terminal adenosine has to be added before addition of the CCA end and subsequent aminoacylation. We show that the mitochondrial poly(A) polymerase (mtPAP) is responsible for this A addition. In vitro, a tRNA(Tyr) lacking the discriminator is a substrate for mtPAP. In vivo, an altered mtPAP protein level affected tRNA(Tyr) maturation, as shown by sequencing the 3' ends of mitochondrial tRNAs. Complete repair could be reconstituted in vitro with three enzymes: mtPAP frequently added more than one A to the 3' end of the truncated tRNA, and either the mitochondrial deadenylase PDE12 or the endonuclease RNase Z trimmed the oligo(A) tail to a single A before CCA addition. An enzyme machinery that evolved primarily for other purposes thus allows to tolerate the frequent evolutionary occurrence of gene overlaps.
Project description:Identity elements play essential roles in the recognition of tRNAs by their cognate aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase. An operational RNA code relates amino acids to specific sequences and structural features of tRNA acceptor stems. In this study, a series of tRNA(Trp) variants was prepared by in vitro transcription and their efficiencies of aminoacylation by tryptophan (k(cat)/K(m)) were measured with the aid of Bacillus subtilis and human tryptophanyl-tRNA synthetases (TrpRS). The identity elements in the operational RNA code of human tRNA(Trp) were found to be: major element, discriminator base A73; minor elements, G1/C72 and U5/G68. From the cross-species aminoacylation assays, we conclude that the identity elements in tRNA(Trp) from B.subtilis and human all contribute to species-specific aminoacylation by TrpRS. Analyses of 22 TrpRS sequences covering three taxonomic domains (bacteria, eukarya and archaea) reveal that the sequences are divided into two evolutionarily distant groups. The same partition is also observed in the analyses of tRNA(Trp) acceptor stem sequences. Our data suggest that the two TrpRS groups may reflect co-adaptations needed to accommodate changes in the operational RNA code for tryptophan.
Project description:For efficient aminoacylation, tRNAs carry the conserved 3'-terminal sequence C-C-A, which is synthesized by highly specific tRNA nucleotidyltransferases (CCA-adding enzymes). In several prokaryotes, this function is accomplished by separate enzymes for CC- and A-addition. As A-adding enzymes carry an N-terminal catalytic core identical to that of CCA-adding enzymes, it is unclear why their activity is restricted. Here, it is shown that C-terminal deletion variants of A-adding enzymes acquire full and precise CCA-incorporating activity. The deleted region seems to be responsible for tRNA primer selection, restricting the enzyme's specificity to tRNAs ending with CC. The data suggest that A-adding enzymes carry an intrinsic CCA-adding activity that can be reactivated by the introduction of deletions in the C-terminal domain. Furthermore, a unique subtype of CCA-adding enzymes could be identified that evolved out of A-adding enzymes, suggesting that mutations and deletions in nucleotidyltransferases can lead to altered and even more complex activities, as a simple A-incorporation is converted into sequence-specific addition of C and A residues. Such activity-modifying events may have had an important role in the evolution of tRNA nucleotidyltransferases.
Project description:Correct synthesis and maintenance of functional tRNA 3'-CCA-ends is a crucial prerequisite for aminoacylation and must be achieved by the phylogenetically diverse group of tRNA nucleotidyltransferases. While numerous reports on the in vitro characterization exist, robust analysis under in vivo conditions is lacking. Here, we utilize Escherichia coli RNase T, a tRNA-processing enzyme responsible for the tRNA-CCA-end turnover, to generate an in vivo system for the evaluation of A-adding activity. Expression of RNase T results in a prominent growth phenotype that renders the presence of a CCA- or A-adding enzyme essential for cell survival in an E. coli ?cca background. The distinct growth fitness allows for both complementation and selection of enzyme variants in a natural environment. We demonstrate the potential of our system via detection of altered catalytic efficiency and temperature sensitivity. Furthermore, we select functional enzyme variants out of a sequence pool carrying a randomized codon for a highly conserved position essential for catalysis. The presented E. coli-based approach opens up a wide field of future studies including the investigation of tRNA nucleotidyltransferases from all domains of life and the biological relevance of in vitro data concerning their functionality and mode of operation.
Project description:The 3'-termini of tRNA are the point of amino acid linkage and thus crucial for their function in delivering amino acids to the ribosome and other enzymes. Therefore, to provide tRNA functionality, cells have to ensure the integrity of the 3'-terminal CCA-tail, which is generated during maturation by the 3'-trailer processing machinery and maintained by the CCA-adding enzyme. We developed a new tRNA sequencing method that is specifically tailored to assess the 3'-termini of <i>E. coli</i> tRNA. Intriguingly, we found a significant fraction of tRNAs with damaged CCA-tails under exponential growth conditions and, surprisingly, this fraction decreased upon transition into stationary phase. Interestingly, tRNAs bearing guanine as a discriminator base are generally unaffected by CCA-tail damage. In addition, we showed tRNA species-specific 3'-trailer processing patterns and reproduced in vitro findings on preferences of the maturation enzyme RNase T in vivo.
Project description:Transfer RNAs (tRNAs) require the absolutely conserved sequence motif CCA at their 3'-ends, representing the site of aminoacylation. In the majority of organisms, this trinucleotide sequence is not encoded in the genome and thus has to be added post-transcriptionally by the CCA-adding enzyme, a specialized nucleotidyltransferase. In eukaryotic genomes this ubiquitous and highly conserved enzyme family is usually represented by a single gene copy. Analysis of published sequence data allows us to pin down the unusual evolution of eukaryotic CCA-adding enzymes. We show that the CCA-adding enzymes of animals originated from a horizontal gene transfer event in the stem lineage of Holozoa, i.e. Metazoa (animals) and their unicellular relatives, the Choanozoa. The tRNA nucleotidyltransferase, acquired from an ?-proteobacterium, replaced the ancestral enzyme in Metazoa. However, in Choanoflagellata, the group of Choanozoa that is closest to Metazoa, both the ancestral and the horizontally transferred CCA-adding enzymes have survived. Furthermore, our data refute a mitochondrial origin of the animal tRNA nucleotidyltransferases.
Project description:CCA-adding enzymes [ATP(CTP):tRNA nucleotidyltransferases] add CCA onto the 3' end of transfer RNA (tRNA) precursors without using a nucleic acid template. Although the mechanism by which cytosine (C) is selected at position 75 of tRNA has been established, the mechanism by which adenine (A) is selected at position 76 remains elusive. Here, we report five cocrystal structures of the enzyme complexed with both a tRNA mimic and nucleoside triphosphates under catalytically active conditions. These structures suggest that adenosine 5'-monophosphate is incorporated onto the A76 position of the tRNA via a carboxylate-assisted, one-metal-ion mechanism with aspartate 110 functioning as a general base. The discrimination against incorporation of cytidine 5'-triphosphate (CTP) at position 76 arises from improper placement of the ? phosphate of the incoming CTP, which results from the interaction of C with arginine 224 and prevents the nucleophilic attack by the 3' hydroxyl group of cytidine75.
Project description:The mitochondrial genome of the nematode <i>Romanomermis culicivorax</i> encodes for miniaturized hairpin-like tRNA molecules that lack D- as well as T-arms, strongly deviating from the consensus cloverleaf. The single tRNA nucleotidyltransferase of this organism is fully active on armless tRNAs, while the human counterpart is not able to add a complete CCA-end. Transplanting single regions of the <i>Romanomermis</i> enzyme into the human counterpart, we identified a beta-turn element of the catalytic core that-when inserted into the human enzyme-confers full CCA-adding activity on armless tRNAs. This region, originally identified to position the 3'-end of the tRNA primer in the catalytic core, dramatically increases the enzyme's substrate affinity. While conventional tRNA substrates bind to the enzyme by interactions with the T-arm, this is not possible in the case of armless tRNAs, and the strong contribution of the beta-turn compensates for an otherwise too weak interaction required for the addition of a complete CCA-terminus. This compensation demonstrates the remarkable evolutionary plasticity of the catalytic core elements of this enzyme to adapt to unconventional tRNA substrates.
Project description:The molecular basis of the genetic code manifests itself in the interaction of the aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases and their cognate tRNAs. The fundamental biological question regarding these enzymes' role in the evolution of the genetic code remains open. Here we probe this question in a system in which the same tRNA species is aminoacylated by two unrelated synthetases. Should this tRNA possess major identity elements common to both enzymes, this would favor a scenario where the aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases evolved in the context of preestablished tRNA identity, i.e., after the universal genetic code emerged. An experimental system is provided by the recently discovered O-phosphoseryl-tRNA synthetase (SepRS), which acylates tRNA(Cys) with phosphoserine (Sep), and the well known cysteinyl-tRNA synthetase, which charges the same tRNA with cysteine. We determined the identity elements of Methanocaldococcus jannaschii tRNA(Cys) in the aminoacylation reaction for the two Methanococcus maripaludis synthetases SepRS (forming Sep-tRNA(Cys)) and cysteinyl-tRNA synthetase (forming Cys-tRNA(Cys)). The major elements, the discriminator base and the three anticodon bases, are shared by both tRNA synthetases. An evolutionary analysis of archaeal, bacterial, and eukaryotic tRNA(Cys) sequences predicted additional SepRS-specific minor identity elements (G37, A47, and A59) and suggested the dominance of vertical inheritance for tRNA(Cys) from a single common ancestor. Transplantation of the identified identity elements into the Escherichia coli tRNA(Gly) scaffold endowed facile phosphoserylation activity on the resulting chimera. Thus, tRNA(Cys) identity is an ancient RNA record that depicts the emergence of the universal genetic code before the evolution of the modern aminoacylation systems.