Published on April 1, 2010 in Mol Cell Biol volume 30.
PubMed ID: 20123966
Uridines in the wobble position of tRNA are almost invariably modified. Modifications can increase the efficiency of codon reading, but they also prevent mistranslation by limiting wobbling. In mammals, several tRNAs have 5-methoxycarbonylmethyluridine (mcm5U) or derivatives thereof in the wobble position. Through analysis of tRNA from Alkbh8-/- mice, we show here that ALKBH8 is a tRNA methyltransferase required for the final step in the biogenesis of mcm5U. We also demonstrate that the interaction of ALKBH8 with a small accessory protein, TRM112, is required to form a functional tRNA methyltransferase. Furthermore, prior ALKBH8-mediated methylation is a prerequisite for the thiolation and 2'-O-ribose methylation that form 5-methoxycarbonylmethyl-2-thiouridine (mcm5s2U) and 5-methoxycarbonylmethyl-2'-O-methyluridine (mcm5Um), respectively. Despite the complete loss of all of these uridine modifications, Alkbh8-/- mice appear normal. However, the selenocysteine-specific tRNA (tRNASec) is aberrantly modified in the Alkbh8-/- mice, and for the selenoprotein Gpx1, we indeed observed reduced recoding of the UGA stop codon to selenocysteine.