Published on March 12, 2004 in Biochem Biophys Res Commun volume 315.
PubMed ID: 14975761
The methyltransferase fibrillarin is the catalytic component of ribonucleoprotein complexes that direct site-specific methylation of precursor ribosomal RNA and are critical for ribosome biogenesis in eukaryotes and archaea. Here we report the crystal structure of a fibrillarin ortholog from the hyperthermophilic archaeon Pyrococcus furiosus at 1.97A resolution. Comparisons of the X-ray structures of fibrillarin orthologs from Methanococcus jannashii and Archaeoglobus fulgidus reveal nearly identical backbone configurations for the catalytic C-terminal domain with the exception of a unique loop conformation at the S-adenosyl-l-methionine (AdoMet) binding pocket in P. furiosus. In contrast, the N-terminal domains are divergent which may explain why some forms of fibrillarin apparently homodimerize (M. jannashii) while others are monomeric (P. furiosus and A. fulgidus). Three positively charged amino acids surround the AdoMet-binding site and sequence analysis indicates that this is a conserved feature of both eukaryotic and archaeal fibrillarins. We discuss the possibility that these basic residues of fibrillarin are important for RNA-guided rRNA methylation.