Published on June 20, 2006 in Biochemistry volume 45.
PubMed ID: 16768442
The enzyme tRNA(m1G37) methyl transferase catalyzes the transfer of a methyl group from S-adenosyl methionine (AdoMet) to the N1 position of G37, which is 3' to the anticodon sequence and whose modification is important for maintaining the reading frame fidelity. While the enzyme in bacteria is highly conserved and is encoded by the trmD gene, recent studies show that the counterpart of this enzyme in archaea and eukarya, encoded by the trm5 gene, is unrelated to trmD both in sequence and in structure. To further test this prediction, we seek to identify residues in the second class of tRNA(m1G37) methyl transferase that are required for catalysis. Such residues should provide mechanistic insights into the distinct structural origins of the two classes. Using the Trm5 enzyme of the archaeon Methanocaldococcus jannaschii (previously MJ0883) as an example, we have created mutants to test many conserved residues for their catalytic potential and substrate-binding capabilities with respect to both AdoMet and tRNA. We identified that the proline at position 267 (P267) is a critical residue for catalysis, because substitution of this residue severely decreases the kcat of the methylation reaction in steady-state kinetic analysis, and the k(chem) in single turnover kinetic analysis. However, substitution of P267 has milder effect on the Km and little effect on the Kd of either substrate. Because P267 has no functional side chain that can directly participate in the chemistry of methyl transfer, we suggest that its role in catalysis is to stabilize conformations of enzyme and substrates for proper alignment of reactive groups at the enzyme active site. Sequence analysis shows that P267 is embedded in a peptide motif that is conserved among the Trm5 family, but absent from the TrmD family, supporting the notion that the two families are descendants of unrelated protein structures.