Published on Feb. 1, 1999 in RNA volume 5.
PubMed ID: 9917067
The protein sequences of three known RNA 2'-O-ribose methylases were used as probes for detecting putative homologs through iterative searches of genomic databases. We have identified 45 new positive Open Reading Frames (ORFs), mostly in prokaryotic genomes. Five complete eukaryotic ORFs were also detected, among which was a single ORF (YDL112w) in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae genome. After genetic depletion of YDL112w, we observed a specific defect in tRNA ribose methylation, with the complete disappearance of Gm18 in all tRNAs that naturally contain this modification, whereas other tRNA ribose methylations and the complex pattern of rRNA ribose methylations were not affected. The tRNA G18 methylation defect was suppressed by transformation of the disrupted strain with a plasmid allowing expression of YDL112wp. The formation of Gm18 on an in vitro transcript of a yeast tRNASer naturally containing this methylation, which was efficiently catalyzed by cell-free extracts from the wild-type yeast strain, did not occur with extracts from the disrupted strain. The protein encoded by the YDL112w ORF, termed Trm3 (tRNA methylation), is therefore likely to be the tRNA (Gm18) ribose methylase. In in vitro assays, its activity is strongly dependent on tRNA architecture. Trm3p, the first putative tRNA ribose methylase identified in an eukaryotic organism, is considerably larger than its Escherichia coli functional homolog spoU (1,436 amino acids vs. 229 amino acids), or any known or putative prokaryotic RNA ribose methyltransferase. Homologs found in human (TRP-185 protein), Caenorhabditis elegans and Arabidopsis thaliana also exhibit a very long N-terminal extension not related to any protein sequence in databases.