Published on March 21, 2008 in J Mol Biol volume 377.
PubMed ID: 18262540
Methyltransferases from the m(1)A(58) tRNA methyltransferase (TrmI) family catalyze the S-adenosyl-l-methionine-dependent N(1)-methylation of tRNA adenosine 58. The crystal structure of Thermus thermophilus TrmI, in complex with S-adenosyl-l-homocysteine, was determined at 1.7 A resolution. This structure is closely related to that of Mycobacterium tuberculosis TrmI, and their comparison enabled us to enlighten two grooves in the TrmI structure that are large enough and electrostatically compatible to accommodate one tRNA per face of TrmI tetramer. We have then conducted a biophysical study based on electrospray ionization mass spectrometry, site-directed mutagenesis, and molecular docking. First, we confirmed the tetrameric oligomerization state of TrmI, and we showed that this protein remains tetrameric upon tRNA binding, with formation of complexes involving one to two molecules of tRNA per TrmI tetramer. Second, three key residues for the methylation reaction were identified: the universally conserved D170 and two conserved aromatic residues Y78 and Y194. We then used molecular docking to position a N(9)-methyladenine in the active site of TrmI. The N(9)-methyladenine snugly fits into the catalytic cleft, where the side chain of D170 acts as a bidentate ligand binding the amino moiety of S-adenosyl-l-methionine and the exocyclic amino group of the adenosine. Y194 interacts with the N(9)-methyladenine ring, whereas Y78 can stabilize the sugar ring. From our results, we propose that the conserved residues that form the catalytic cavity (D170, Y78, and Y194) are essential for fashioning an optimized shape of the catalytic pocket.