Structural insights into the molecular mechanism of the m(6)A writer complex.
ABSTRACT: Methylation of adenosines at the N(6) position (m(6)A) is a dynamic and abundant epitranscriptomic mark that regulates critical aspects of eukaryotic RNA metabolism in numerous biological processes. The RNA methyltransferases METTL3 and METTL14 are components of a multisubunit m(6)A writer complex whose enzymatic activity is substantially higher than the activities of METTL3 or METTL14 alone. The molecular mechanism underpinning this synergistic effect is poorly understood. Here we report the crystal structure of the catalytic core of the human m(6)A writer complex comprising METTL3 and METTL14. The structure reveals the heterodimeric architecture of the complex and donor substrate binding by METTL3. Structure-guided mutagenesis indicates that METTL3 is the catalytic subunit of the complex, whereas METTL14 has a degenerate active site and plays non-catalytic roles in maintaining complex integrity and substrate RNA binding. These studies illuminate the molecular mechanism and evolutionary history of eukaryotic m(6)A modification in post-transcriptional genome regulation.
Project description:The methyltransferase like 3 (METTL3)-containing methyltransferase complex catalyzes the N6-methyladenosine (m6A) formation, a novel epitranscriptomic marker; however, the nature of this complex remains largely unknown. Here we report two new components of the human m6A methyltransferase complex, Wilms' tumor 1-associating protein (WTAP) and methyltransferase like 14 (METTL14). WTAP interacts with METTL3 and METTL14, and is required for their localization into nuclear speckles enriched with pre-mRNA processing factors and for catalytic activity of the m6A methyltransferase in vivo. The majority of RNAs bound by WTAP and METTL3 in vivo represent mRNAs containing the consensus m6A motif. In the absence of WTAP, the RNA-binding capability of METTL3 is strongly reduced, suggesting that WTAP may function to regulate recruitment of the m6A methyltransferase complex to mRNA targets. Furthermore, transcriptomic analyses in combination with photoactivatable-ribonucleoside-enhanced crosslinking and immunoprecipitation (PAR-CLIP) illustrate that WTAP and METTL3 regulate expression and alternative splicing of genes involved in transcription and RNA processing. Morpholino-mediated knockdown targeting WTAP and/or METTL3 in zebrafish embryos caused tissue differentiation defects and increased apoptosis. These findings provide strong evidence that WTAP may function as a regulatory subunit in the m6A methyltransferase complex and play a critical role in epitranscriptomic regulation of RNA metabolism.
Project description:N(6)-methyladenosine (m(6)A) is a prevalent, reversible chemical modification of functional RNAs and is important for central events in biology. The core m(6)A writers are Mettl3 and Mettl14, which both contain methyltransferase domains. How Mettl3 and Mettl14 cooperate to catalyze methylation of adenosines has remained elusive. We present crystal structures of the complex of Mettl3/Mettl14 methyltransferase domains in apo form as well as with bound S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) or S-adenosylhomocysteine (SAH) in the catalytic site. We determine that the heterodimeric complex of methyltransferase domains, combined with CCCH motifs, constitutes the minimally required regions for creating m(6)A modifications in vitro. We also show that Mettl3 is the catalytically active subunit, while Mettl14 plays a structural role critical for substrate recognition. Our model provides a molecular explanation for why certain mutations of Mettl3 and Mettl14 lead to impaired function of the methyltransferase complex.
Project description:N6-methyladenine (m6A) is found on many eukaryotic RNAs including mRNAs. m6A modification has been implicated in mRNA stability and turnover, localization, or translation efficiency. A heterodimeric enzyme complex composed of METTL3 and METTL14 generates m6A on mRNAs. METTL3/14 is found in the nucleus where it is localized to nuclear speckles and the splicing regulator WTAP is required for this distinct nuclear localization pattern. Although recent crystal structures revealed how the catalytic MT-A70 domains of METTL3 and METTL14 interact with each other, a more global architecture including WTAP and RNA interactions has not been reported so far. Here, we used recombinant proteins and mapped binding surfaces within the METTL3/14-WTAP complex. Furthermore, we identify nuclear localization signals and identify phosphorylation sites on the endogenous proteins. Using an in vitro methylation assay, we confirm that monomeric METTL3 is soluble and inactive while the catalytic center of METTL14 is degenerated and thus also inactive. In addition, we show that the C-terminal RGG repeats of METTL14 are required for METTL3/14 activity by contributing to RNA substrate binding. Our biochemical work identifies characteristic features of METTL3/14-WTAP and reveals novel insight into the overall architecture of this important enzyme complex.
Project description:Internal modification of RNAs with N6-methyladenosine (m6A) is a highly conserved means of gene expression control. While the METTL3/METTL14 heterodimer adds this mark on thousands of transcripts in a single-stranded context, the substrate requirements and physiological roles of the second m6A writer METTL16 remain unknown. Here we describe the crystal structure of human METTL16 to reveal a methyltransferase domain furnished with an extra N-terminal module, which together form a deep-cut groove that is essential for RNA binding. When presented with a random pool of RNAs, METTL16 selects for methylation-structured RNAs where the critical adenosine is present in a bulge. Mouse 16-cell embryos lacking Mettl16 display reduced mRNA levels of its methylation target, the SAM synthetase Mat2a. The consequence is massive transcriptome dysregulation in ?64-cell blastocysts that are unfit for further development. This highlights the role of an m6A RNA methyltransferase in facilitating early development via regulation of SAM availability.
Project description:Spermatogenesis is a differentiation process during which diploid spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) produce haploid spermatozoa. This highly specialized process is precisely controlled at the transcriptional, posttranscriptional, and translational levels. Here we report that N6-methyladenosine (m6A), an epitranscriptomic mark regulating gene expression, plays essential roles during spermatogenesis. We present comprehensive m6A mRNA methylomes of mouse spermatogenic cells from five developmental stages: undifferentiated spermatogonia, type A1 spermatogonia, preleptotene spermatocytes, pachytene/diplotene spermatocytes, and round spermatids. Germ cell-specific inactivation of the m6A RNA methyltransferase Mettl3 or Mettl14 with Vasa-Cre causes loss of m6A and depletion of SSCs. m6A depletion dysregulates translation of transcripts that are required for SSC proliferation/differentiation. Combined deletion of Mettl3 and Mettl14 in advanced germ cells with Stra8-GFPCre disrupts spermiogenesis, whereas mice with single deletion of either Mettl3 or Mettl14 in advanced germ cells show normal spermatogenesis. The spermatids from double-mutant mice exhibit impaired translation of haploid-specific genes that are essential for spermiogenesis. This study highlights crucial roles of mRNA m6A modification in germline development, potentially ensuring coordinated translation at different stages of spermatogenesis.
Project description:The epitranscriptomic writer Alkylation Repair Homolog 8 (ALKBH8) is a transfer RNA (tRNA) methyltransferase that modifies the wobble uridine of selenocysteine tRNA to promote the specialized translation of selenoproteins. Using Alkbh8 deficient (Alkbh8def) mice, we have investigated the importance of epitranscriptomic systems in the response to naphthalene, an abundant polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon and environmental toxicant. We performed basal lung analysis and naphthalene exposure studies using wild type (WT), Alkbh8de f and Cyp2abfgs-null mice, the latter of which lack the cytochrome P450 enzymes required for naphthalene bioactivation. Under basal conditions, lungs from Alkbh8def mice have increased markers of oxidative stress and decreased thioredoxin reductase protein levels, and have reprogrammed gene expression to differentially regulate stress response transcripts. Alkbh8def mice are more sensitive to naphthalene induced death than WT, showing higher susceptibility to lung damage at the cellular and molecular levels. Further, WT mice develop a tolerance to naphthalene after 3 days, defined as resistance to a high challenging dose after repeated exposures, which is absent in Alkbh8def mice. We conclude that the epitranscriptomic writer ALKBH8 plays a protective role against naphthalene-induced lung dysfunction and promotes naphthalene tolerance. Our work provides an early example of how epitranscriptomic systems can regulate the response to environmental stress in vivo.
Project description:N6-methyladenosine (m6A), the most abundant chemical modification in eukaryotic mRNA, has been implicated in Drosophila sex determination by modifying Sex-lethal (Sxl) pre-mRNA and facilitating its alternative splicing. Here, we identify a sex determination gene, CG7358, and rename it xio according to its loss-of-function female-to-male transformation phenotype. xio encodes a conserved ubiquitous nuclear protein of unknown function. We show that Xio colocalizes and interacts with all previously known m6A writer complex subunits (METTL3, METTL14, Fl(2)d/WTAP, Vir/KIAA1429, and Nito/Rbm15) and that loss of xio is associated with phenotypes that resemble other m6A factors, such as sexual transformations, Sxl splicing defect, held-out wings, flightless flies, and reduction of m6A levels. Thus, Xio encodes a member of the m6A methyltransferase complex involved in mRNA modification. Since its ortholog ZC3H13 (or KIAA0853) also associates with several m6A writer factors, the function of Xio in the m6A pathway is likely evolutionarily conserved.
Project description:N6-methyladenosine (m6A) modifications can be found in eukaryotic messenger RNA (mRNA), long non-coding RNA (lncRNA), and microRNA (miRNA). Several studies have demonstrated a close relationship between m6A modifications and cancer cells. Methyltransferase-like enzyme 3 (METTL3) and methyltransferase-like enzyme 14 (METTL14) are two major enzymes involved in m6A modifications that play vital roles in various cancers. However, the roles and regulatory mechanisms of METTL3 and METTL14 in urological cancers are largely unknown. In this review, we summarize the current research results for METTL3 and METTL14 and identify potential pathways involving these enzymes in kidney, bladder, prostate, and testicular cancer. We found that METTL3 and METTL14 have different expression patterns in four types of urological cancers. METTL3 is highly expressed in bladder and prostate cancer and plays an oncogenic role on cancer cells; however, its expression and role are opposite in kidney cancer. METTL14 is expressed at low levels in kidney and bladder cancer, where it has a tumor suppressive role. Low METTL3 or METTL14 expression in cancer cells negatively regulates cell growth-related pathways (e.g., mTOR, EMT, and P2XR6) but positively regulates cell death-related pathways (e.g., P53, PTEN, and Notch1). When METTL3 is highly expressed, it positively regulates the NF-kB and SHH-GL1pathways but negatively regulates PTEN. These results suggest that although METTL3 and METTL14 have different expression levels and regulatory mechanisms in urological cancers, they control cancer cell fate via cell growth- and cell death-related pathways. These findings suggest that m6A modification may be a potential new therapeutic target in urological cancer.
Project description:N6-methyladenosine (m6A), installed by the Mettl3/Mettl14 methyltransferase complex, is the most prevalent internal mRNA modification. Whether m6A regulates mammalian brain development is unknown. Here, we show that m6A depletion by Mettl14 knockout in embryonic mouse brains prolongs the cell cycle of radial glia cells and extends cortical neurogenesis into postnatal stages. m6A depletion by Mettl3 knockdown also leads to a prolonged cell cycle and maintenance of radial glia cells. m6A sequencing of embryonic mouse cortex reveals enrichment of mRNAs related to transcription factors, neurogenesis, the cell cycle, and neuronal differentiation, and m6A tagging promotes their decay. Further analysis uncovers previously unappreciated transcriptional prepatterning in cortical neural stem cells. m6A signaling also regulates human cortical neurogenesis in forebrain organoids. Comparison of m6A-mRNA landscapes between mouse and human cortical neurogenesis reveals enrichment of human-specific m6A tagging of transcripts related to brain-disorder risk genes. Our study identifies an epitranscriptomic mechanism in heightened transcriptional coordination during mammalian cortical neurogenesis.
Project description:N6-methyladenosine (m6A), a ubiquitous RNA modification, is installed by METTL3-METTL14 complex. The structure of the heterodimeric complex between the methyltransferase domains (MTDs) of METTL3 and METTL14 has been previously determined. However, the MTDs alone possess no enzymatic activity. Here we present the solution structure for the zinc finger domain (ZFD) of METTL3, the inclusion of which fulfills the methyltransferase activity of METTL3-METTL14. We show that the ZFD specifically binds to an RNA containing 5'-GGACU-3' consensus sequence, but does not to one without. The ZFD thus serves as the target recognition domain, a structural feature previously shown for DNA methyltransferases, and cooperates with the MTDs of METTL3-METTL14 for catalysis. However, the interaction between the ZFD and the specific RNA is extremely weak, with the binding affinity at several hundred micromolar under physiological conditions. The ZFD contains two CCCH-type zinc fingers connected by an anti-parallel ?-sheet. Mutational analysis and NMR titrations have mapped the functional interface to a contiguous surface. As a division of labor, the RNA-binding interface comprises basic residues from zinc finger 1 and hydrophobic residues from ?-sheet and zinc finger 2. Further we show that the linker between the ZFD and MTD of METTL3 is flexible but partially folded, which may permit the cooperation between the two domains during catalysis. Together, the structural characterization of METTL3 ZFD paves the way to elucidate the atomic details of the entire process of RNA m6A modification.