Divergent Evolution of Eukaryotic CC- and A-Adding Enzymes.
ABSTRACT: Synthesis of the CCA end of essential tRNAs is performed either by CCA-adding enzymes or as a collaboration between enzymes restricted to CC- and A-incorporation. While the occurrence of such tRNA nucleotidyltransferases with partial activities seemed to be restricted to Bacteria, the first example of such split CCA-adding activities was reported in Schizosaccharomyces pombe. Here, we demonstrate that the choanoflagellate Salpingoeca rosetta also carries CC- and A-adding enzymes. However, these enzymes have distinct evolutionary origins. Furthermore, the restricted activity of the eukaryotic CC-adding enzymes has evolved in a different way compared to their bacterial counterparts. Yet, the molecular basis is very similar, as highly conserved positions within a catalytically important flexible loop region are missing in the CC-adding enzymes. For both the CC-adding enzymes from S. rosetta as well as S. pombe, introduction of the loop elements from closely related enzymes with full activity was able to restore CCA-addition, corroborating the significance of this loop in the evolution of bacterial as well as eukaryotic tRNA nucleotidyltransferases. Our data demonstrate that partial CC- and A-adding activities in Bacteria and Eukaryotes are based on the same mechanistic principles but, surprisingly, originate from different evolutionary events.
Project description:CCA-adding enzymes are specialized polymerases that add a specific sequence (C-C-A) to tRNA 3' ends without requiring a nucleic acid template. In some organisms, CCA synthesis is accomplished by the collaboration of evolutionary closely related enzymes with partial activities (CC and A addition). These enzymes carry all known motifs of the catalytic core found in CCA-adding enzymes. Therefore, it is a mystery why these polymerases are restricted in their activity and do not synthesize a complete CCA terminus. Here, a region located outside of the conserved motifs was identified that is missing in CC-adding enzymes. When recombinantly introduced from a CCA-adding enzyme, the region restores full CCA-adding activity in the resulting chimera. Correspondingly, deleting the region in a CCA-adding enzyme abolishes the A-incorporating activity, also leading to CC addition. The presence of the deletion was used to predict the CC-adding activity of putative bacterial tRNA nucleotidyltransferases. Indeed, two such enzymes were experimentally identified as CC-adding enzymes, indicating that the existence of the deletion is a hallmark for this activity. Furthermore, phylogenetic analysis of identified and putative CC-adding enzymes indicates that this type of tRNA nucleotidyltransferases emerged several times during evolution. Obviously, these enzymes descend from CCA-adding enzymes, where the occurrence of the deletion led to the restricted activity of CC addition. A-adding enzymes, however, seem to represent a monophyletic group that might also be ancestral to CCA-adding enzymes. Yet, experimental data indicate that it is possible that A-adding activities also evolved from CCA-adding enzymes by the occurrence of individual point mutations.
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:Dictyostelium discoideum, the model organism for the evolutionary supergroup of Amoebozoa, is a social amoeba that, upon starvation, undergoes transition from a unicellular to a multicellular organism. In its genome, we identified two genes encoding for tRNA nucleotidyltransferases. Such pairs of tRNA nucleotidyltransferases usually represent collaborating partial activities catalyzing CC- and A-addition to the tRNA 3'-end, respectively. In D. discoideum, however, both enzymes exhibit identical activities, representing bona-fide CCA-adding enzymes. Detailed characterization of the corresponding activities revealed that both enzymes seem to be essential and are regulated inversely during different developmental stages of D. discoideum. Intriguingly, this is the first description of two functionally equivalent CCA-adding enzymes using the same set of tRNAs and showing a similar distribution within the cell. This situation seems to be a common feature in Dictyostelia, as other members of this phylum carry similar pairs of tRNA nucleotidyltransferase genes in their genome.
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:Showing a high sequence similarity, the evolutionary closely related bacterial poly(A) polymerases (PAP) and CCA-adding enzymes catalyze quite different reactions--PAP adds poly(A) tails to RNA 3'-ends, while CCA-adding enzymes synthesize the sequence CCA at the 3'-terminus of tRNAs. Here, two highly conserved structural elements of the corresponding Escherichia coli enzymes were characterized. The first element is a set of amino acids that was identified in CCA-adding enzymes as a template region determining the enzymes' specificity for CTP and ATP. The same element is also present in PAP, where it confers ATP specificity. The second investigated region corresponds to a flexible loop in CCA-adding enzymes and is involved in the incorporation of the terminal A-residue. Although, PAP seems to carry a similar flexible region, the functional relevance of this element in PAP is not known. The presented results show that the template region has an essential function in both enzymes, while the second element is surprisingly dispensable in PAP. The data support the idea that the bacterial PAP descends from CCA-adding enzymes and still carries some of the structural elements required for CCA-addition as an evolutionary relic and is now fixed in a conformation specific for A-addition.
Project description:CCA-adding enzymes build and repair the 3'-terminal CCA sequence of tRNA. These unusual RNA polymerases use either a ribonucleoprotein template (class I) or pure protein template (class II) to form mock base pairs with the Watson-Crick edges of incoming CTP and ATP. Guided by the class II Bacillus stearothermophilus CCA-adding enzyme structure, we introduced mutations designed to reverse the polarity of hydrogen bonds between the nucleobases and protein template. We were able to transform the CCA-adding enzyme into a (U,G)-adding enzyme that incorporates UTP and GTP instead of CTP and ATP; we transformed the related Aquifex aeolicus CC- and A-adding enzymes into UU- and G-adding enzymes and Escherichia coli poly(A) polymerase into a poly(G) polymerase; and we transformed the B. stearothermophilus CCA-adding enzyme into a poly(C,A) polymerase by mutations in helix J that appear, based on the apoenzyme structure, to sterically limit addition to CCA. We also transformed the B. stearothermophilus CCA-adding enzyme into a dCdCdA-adding enzyme by mutating an arginine that interacts with the incoming ribose 2' hydroxyl. Most importantly, we found that mutations in helix J can affect the specificity of the nucleotide binding site some 20 A away, suggesting that the specificity of both class I and II enzymes may be dictated by an intricate network of hydrogen bonds involving the protein, incoming nucleotide, and 3' end of the tRNA. Collaboration between RNA and protein in the form of a ribonucleoprotein template may help to explain the evolutionary diversity of the nucleotidyltransferase family.
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:Archaeal class I CCA-adding enzymes use a ribonucleoprotein template to build and repair the universally conserved 3'-terminal CCA sequence of the acceptor stem of all tRNAs. A wealth of structural and biochemical data indicate that the Archaeoglobus fulgidus CCA-adding enzyme binds primarily to the tRNA acceptor stem through a long, highly conserved alpha-helix that lies nearly parallel to the acceptor stem and makes many contacts with its sugar-phosphate backbone. Although the geometry of this alpha-helix is nearly ideal in all available cocrystal structures, the helix contains a highly conserved, potentially helix-breaking proline or glycine near the N terminus. We performed a mutational analysis to dissect the role of this residue in CCA-addition activity. We found that the phylogenetically permissible P295G mutant and the phylogenetically absent P295T had little effect on CCA addition, whereas P295A and P295S progressively interfered with CCA addition (C74>C75>A76 addition). We also examined the effects of these mutations on tRNA binding and the kinetics of CCA addition, and performed a computational analysis using Rosetta Design to better understand the role of P295 in nucleotide transfer. Our data indicate that CCA-adding activity does not correlate with the stability of the pre-addition cocrystal structures visualized by X-ray crystallography. Rather, the data are consistent with a transient conformational change involving P295 of the tRNA-binding alpha-helix during or between one or more steps in CCA addition.
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:CCA-adding enzymes are polymerases existing in two distinct enzyme classes that both synthesize the C-C-A triplet at tRNA 3'-ends. Class II enzymes (found in bacteria and eukaryotes) carry a flexible loop in their catalytic core required for switching the specificity of the nucleotide binding pocket from CTP- to ATP-recognition. Despite this important function, the loop sequence varies strongly between individual class II CCA-adding enzymes. To investigate whether this loop operates as a discrete functional entity or whether it depends on the sequence context of the enzyme, we introduced reciprocal loop replacements in several enzymes. Surprisingly, many of these replacements are incompatible with enzymatic activity and inhibit ATP-incorporation. A phylogenetic analysis revealed the existence of conserved loop families. Loop replacements within families did not interfere with enzymatic activity, indicating that the loop function depends on a sequence context specific for individual enzyme families. Accordingly, modeling experiments suggest specific interactions of loop positions with important elements of the protein, forming a lever-like structure. Hence, although being part of the enzyme's catalytic core, the loop region follows an extraordinary evolutionary path, independent of other highly conserved catalytic core elements, but depending on specific sequence features in the context of the individual enzymes.