Nuclear tRNA export in Saccharomyces cerevisiae has been proposed to involve three pathways, designated Los1p-dependent, Los1p-independent nuclear aminoacylation-dependent, and Los1p- and nuclear aminoacylation-independent. Here, a comprehensive biochemical analysis was performed to identify tRNAs exported by the aminoacylation-dependent and -independent pathways of S. cerevisiae . Interestingly, the major tRNA species of at least 19 families were found in the aminoacylated form in the nucleus. tRNAs known to be exported by the export receptor Los1p were also aminoacylated in the nucleus of both wild-type and mutant Los1p strains. FISH (fluorescence in situ hybridization) analyses showed that tRNA Tyr co-localizes with the U18 small nucleolar RNA in the nucleolus of a tyrosyl-tRNA synthetase mutant strain defective in nuclear tRNA Tyr export because of a block in nuclear tRNA Tyr aminoacylation. tRNA Tyr was also found in the nucleolus of a utp8 mutant strain defective in nuclear tRNA export but not nuclear tRNA aminoacylation. These results strongly suggest that the nuclear aminoacylation-dependent pathway is principally responsible for tRNA export in S. cerevisiae and that Los1p is an export receptor of this pathway. It is also likely that in mammalian cells tRNAs are mainly exported from the nucleus by the nuclear aminoacylation-dependent pathway. In addition, the data are consistent with the idea that nuclear aminoacylation is used as a quality control mechanism for ensuring nuclear export of only mature and functional tRNAs, and that this quality assurance step occurs in the nucleolus.
Nuclear export of tRNA in Saccharomyces cerevisiae involves Los1p and Arc1p. Los1p facilitates tRNA translocation across the nuclear pore complex whereas Arc1p plays a role in delivering some species of tRNA exiting the nucleus to their cognate aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases. Here, we show that mutations of C11 and G24 of the D-stem of the yeast tyrosine amber-suppressor tRNA have different effects on nuclear export of the tRNA. Changing G24 had no effect on export of the tRNA to the cytoplasm. In contrast, mutating C11 resulted in nuclear retention of the tRNA. Nuclear retention of the tRNA mutants was not due to lack of processing, since only the mature forms of the tRNA mutants were found. The fact that mutations of G24 did not affect export of the tRNA also indicates that the effect of mutating C11 is not due to gross alteration of the tertiary structure resulting from disruption of the C11/G24 base pair. Expression of Los1p and the mammalian tRNA export receptor exportin-t rescued nuclear export of the tRNA with changes at position 11. The export-defective mutations of the tRNA mutants were suppressed by introducing the complementary nucleotides at position 24. Taken together, these findings suggest that C11 is important for binding of the tRNA to the export receptor, and that this binding is influenced by the conformation of the base. Finally, the export-defective tRNA mutants described can be used as reporters to identify eukaryotic proteins involved in the nuclear-tRNA export process, and characterize the molecular interactions between known receptors and the tRNA substrate.
Formylation of the initiator methionyl-tRNA by methionyl-tRNA formyltransferase (MTF) is an essential step in initiation of protein synthesis in eubacteria. Here, site-directed mutagenesis was used to identify active site residues of the Haemophilus influenzae MTF. Of the nine residues investigated, only Arg-41, Asn-107, His-109 and Asp-145 were important for the function of the H. influenzae MTF. Replacement of these residues with Ala resulted in a significant reduction in the efficiency of catalysis. Intrinsic fluorescence analysis indicated that this was not due to a defect in N 10 -formyltetrahydrofolate (fTHF) binding. The Asp-145 and Arg-41 mutations reduced the affinity of the enzyme for the initiator tRNA, whereas the Asn-107 and His-109 mutations affected catalysis but not tRNA binding. Replacement of Arg-41, His-109 and Asp-145 with functionally similar residues also affected the activity of the enzyme. The data suggest that Asn-107, His-109 and Asp-145 are catalytic residues, whereas Arg-41 is involved in tRNA recognition. In the Escherichia coli glycinamide ribonucleotide formyltransferase, which also uses fTHF as the formyl donor, Asn-106, His-108 and Asp-144 participate in the catalytic step. Together, these observations imply that this group of enzymes uses the same basic mechanism in formylating their substrates.