Published on March 1, 2009 in Nucleic Acids Res volume 37.
PubMed ID: 19151091
The wobble modification in tRNAs, 5-methoxycarbonylmethyl-2-thiouridine (mcm(5)s(2)U), is required for the proper decoding of NNR codons in eukaryotes. The 2-thio group confers conformational rigidity of mcm(5)s(2)U by largely fixing the C3'-endo ribose puckering, ensuring stable and accurate codon-anticodon pairing. We have identified five genes in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, YIL008w (URM1), YHR111w (UBA4), YOR251c (TUM1), YNL119w (NCS2) and YGL211w (NCS6), that are required for 2-thiolation of mcm(5)s(2)U. An in vitro sulfur transfer experiment revealed that Tum1p stimulated the cysteine desulfurase of Nfs1p, and accepted persulfide sulfurs from Nfs1p. URM1 is a ubiquitin-related modifier, and UBA4 is an E1-like enzyme involved in protein urmylation. The carboxy-terminus of Urm1p was activated as an acyl-adenylate (-COAMP), then thiocarboxylated (-COSH) by Uba4p. The activated thiocarboxylate can be utilized in the subsequent reactions for 2-thiouridine formation, mediated by Ncs2p/Ncs6p. We could successfully reconstitute the 2-thiouridine formation in vitro using recombinant proteins. This study revealed that 2-thiouridine formation shares a pathway and chemical reactions with protein urmylation. The sulfur-flow of eukaryotic 2-thiouridine formation is distinct mechanism from the bacterial sulfur-relay system which is based on the persulfide chemistry.