Published on April 1, 2012 in RNA volume 18.
PubMed ID: 22337945
RsmG is an AdoMet-dependent methyltransferase responsible for the synthesis of m(7)G527 in the 530 loop of bacterial 16S rRNA. This loop is universally conserved, plays a key role in ribosomal accuracy, and is a target for streptomycin binding. Loss of the m(7)G527 modification confers low-level streptomycin resistance and may affect ribosomal functioning. Here, we explore the mechanisms controlling RsmG expression and activity, which may somehow respond to the demand set by the amount of rRNA. We confirm that rsmG is the second member in a bicistronic operon and demonstrate that rsmG also has its own promoter, which appears, in actively growing cells, as a control device to offset both the relatively low stability of RsmG and inhibition of the operon promoter. RsmG levels decrease under conditions that down-regulate rRNA synthesis. However, coordination between rRNA and RsmG expression does not seem to occur at the level of transcription initiation. Instead, it might depend on the activity of an inverted repeated region, located between the rsmG promoter and ribosome binding site, which we show to work as a weak transcriptional terminator. To gain insights into the enzymatic mechanism of RsmG, highly conserved residues were mutated and the abilities of the resulting proteins to confer streptomycin resistance, to modify rRNA, and to bind AdoMet were explored. Our data demonstrate for the first time the critical importance of some residues located in the active site of Escherichia coli RsmG for the m(7)G modification process and suggest a role for them in rRNA binding and catalysis.