Published on April 24, 2015 in PLoS One. volume 10(4): e0122972.
PubMed ID: 4409310
Background The proliferation of antibiotic resistant pathogens is an increasing threat to the general public. Resistance may be conferred by a number of mechanisms including covalent or mutational modification of the antibiotic binding site, covalent modification of the drug, or the over-expression of efflux pumps. The nosiheptide resistance methyltransferase (NHR) confers resistance to the thiazole antibiotic nosiheptide in the nosiheptide producer organism Streptomyces actuosus through 2ʹO-methylation of 23S rRNA at the nucleotide A1067. Although the crystal structures of NHR and the closely related thiostrepton-resistance methyltransferase (TSR) in complex with the cofactor S-Adenosyl-L-methionine (SAM) are available, the principles behind NHR substrate recognition and catalysis remain unclear. Methodology/Principal Findings We have analyzed the binding interactions between NHR and model 58 and 29 nucleotide substrate RNAs by gel electrophoresis mobility shift assays (EMSA) and fluorescence anisotropy. We show that the enzyme binds to RNA as a dimer. By constructing a hetero-dimer complex composed of one wild-type subunit and one inactive mutant NHR-R135A subunit, we show that only one functional subunit of the NHR homodimer is required for its enzymatic activity. Mutational analysis suggests that the interactions between neighbouring bases (G1068 and U1066) and A1067 have an important role in methyltransfer activity, such that the substitution of a deoxy sugar spacer (5ʹ) to the target nucleotide achieved near wild-type levels of methylation. A series of atomic substitutions at specific positions on the substrate adenine show that local base-base interactions between neighbouring bases are important for methylation. Conclusion/Significance Taken together these data suggest that local base-base interactions play an important role in aligning the substrate 2’ hydroxyl group of A1067 for methyl group transfer. Methylation of nucleic acids is playing an increasingly important role in fundamental biological processes and we anticipate that the approach outlined in this manuscript may be useful for investigating other classes of nucleic acid methyltransferases.