Published on Nov. 1, 2019 in Nucleic Acids Res volume 47, 19.
PubMed ID: 31665743
Post-transcriptional RNA modifications, the epitranscriptome, play important roles in modulating the functions of RNA species. Modifications of rRNA are key for ribosome production and function. Identification and characterization of enzymes involved in epitranscriptome shaping is instrumental for the elucidation of the functional roles of specific RNA modifications. Ten modified sites have been thus far identified in the mammalian mitochondrial rRNA. Enzymes responsible for two of these modifications have not been characterized. Here, we identify METTL15, show that it is the main N4-methylcytidine (m4C) methyltransferase in human cells and demonstrate that it is responsible for the methylation of position C839 in mitochondrial 12S rRNA. We show that the lack of METTL15 results in a reduction of the mitochondrial de novo protein synthesis and decreased steady-state levels of protein components of the oxidative phosphorylation system. Without functional METTL15, the assembly of the mitochondrial ribosome is decreased, with the late assembly components being unable to be incorporated efficiently into the small subunit. We speculate that m4C839 is involved in the stabilization of 12S rRNA folding, therefore facilitating the assembly of the mitochondrial small ribosomal subunits. Taken together our data show that METTL15 is a novel protein necessary for efficient translation in human mitochondria.