Published on July 1, 2012 in RNA Biol. volume 9(7):990-1001.
PubMed ID: 22832247
Correct codon-anticodon pairing promotes translational fidelity, with these interactions greatly facilitated by modified nucleosides found in tRNA. We hypothesized that wobble uridine modifications catalyzed by tRNA methyltransferase 9 (Trm9) are essential for translational fidelity. In support, we have used phenotypic, reporter and protein-based assays to demonstrate increased translational infidelity in trm9Δ Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells. Codon reengineering studies suggest that Trm9-catalyzed tRNA modifications promote fidelity during the translation of specific genes, those rich in arginine and glutamic acid codons from mixed boxes. Using quantitative tRNA modification analysis, we determined that trm9Δ cells are only deficient in 2 of 23 tRNA modifications, with those 2, 5-methoxycarbonylmethyluridine (mcm ( 5) U) and 5-methoxycarbonylmethyl-2-thiouridine (mcm ( 5) s ( 2) U), classified as key determinants of translational fidelity. We also show that in the absence of mcm ( 5) U and mcm ( 5) s ( 2) U, the resulting translational infidelity promotes protein errors and activation of unfolded protein and heat shock responses. These data support a model in which Trm9-catalyzed tRNA modifications promote fidelity during the translation of specific transcripts, with decreased wobble base modification leading to translational infidelity, protein errors and activation of protein stress response pathways.